Located within the
"It actually exceeded all of our expectations, we didn't know what the response would be when we first set up and began collecting," said
When the warehouse was initially established, members of
"It was physically set up so we could keep operations going, while keeping our first responders and health care providers safe," said Carpenter.
During its entire operational period, the facility processed 110 requests for supplies and received more than 40 shipments of goods through donations. In addition to personal protective gear, the facility took in shelf-stable meals, cleaning supplies, thermometers, soap and toilet paper, elastic and thread, unused plastic sheeting, duct tape, surgical gowns, paper towels, and hand and surface disinfectants.
"It worked far better than we even hoped it would," said Carpenter. "We were really happy with the way everything worked out."
In its heyday, Carpenter said the warehouse was staffed with over 100 county employees and more than 20 volunteers.
Carpenter said the outpouring of support from the community in providing essential items during the pandemic was immeasurable.
Some of the bigger donors included
As preparations began for
"We were now thinking what we needed to do to get public buildings running to be open for the public and be a safe operation," said Carpenter.
That redistribution of essential supplies from the warehouse marked the imminent closure of the facility.
Today, Carpenter said she finds it easier to obtain personal protective equipment through distributors, and the once logjammed supply channels are now reopening.
"That's a first indicator that things are a little stronger and we're no longer in an emergency or panic mode," said Carpenter. "We are able to fulfill orders again."
Carpenter also said the county procurement office has been more successful in reestablishing once hard-to-get supply contracts to make purchases.
"We knew we had the stability in the supply chain to keep us sustained, that's when we knew we could close the facility," said Carpenter.
Carpenter said there were many lessons taken from the pandemic situation, including closely monitoring the stock of essential items on hand and examining the frequency in which orders are made.
With her eyes on the upcoming hurricane season--which begins
"We're working on having a greater availability of those things," said Carpenter. "The initial blow of shortages and panic and fear has settled down a little bit, and everyone has more confidence to move forward."
Although fully active as recently as two weeks ago, the county's
Carpenter said services are still being provided through the center, and requests are still being processed, but a reduced number of staff is sufficient to handle those requests.
"We're trying to get everyone back to normal operations." said Carpenter. "[We will] continue to work closely with our partners at the
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