The Disaster group, Inc. (TDG) our parent company, is prepared to provide pre-disaster preparedness instruction and post disaster recovery organizing assistance.
Our training and experience enables TDG staff to work with communities and provide guidance in how to effectively prepare citizens to be more self reliant during disasters and thus be able to render aid to neighbors more effectively. In addition TDG has developed a training program that will improve the ability of local churches and civic groups to organize their members and become a positive asset to the local Emergency Management Agency.
The confusion inherent in a disaster can be overcome, but only if communities have anchor organizations that can provide coordinating centers and volunteer management.
Andrew E. Jones, The Disaster group, Inc. President and CEO, addressed this problem recently. “Volunteers are essential to effective humanitarian response and long term recovery, but they must be coordinated according to local needs. These needs are best determined by gathering and analyzing local information in a timely manner. Most municipalities are not set up to accomplish those tasks, but we have templates for accomplishing that and are looking for real time opportunities to share.”
New Jersey State Government hotline
“Today we’re activating the hotline so that our state is prepared to direct volunteers where help may be needed,” she said.
Guadagno said any trained volunteers affiliated with emergency response organizations should contact those agencies to register and get an assignment.
The hotline is run by the New Jersey Business Action Center and the Governor’s Office of Volunteerism, both within the New Jersey Department of State, which Guadagno also oversees in her capacity as secretary of state.
The Department of State will work with NJ AmeriCorps to direct volunteers where help is needed.
Any residents seeking help from volunteers should call 211 or visit www.nj211.org.
How NOT to task volunteers
Many people show up early at a disaster site with good intentions but little preparation, said Bernard Scrogin, a veteran responder with Lutheran Social Services of Texas and Louisiana.
Those good intentions turned into disappointment for a busload of out-of-state volunteers who arrived in New Jersey last week. The volunteers did not have any plans for where they were going to stay or help and they were encouraged to go home by emergency responders.
It is the same in almost every major disaster. Scrogin recalls a similar incident from the initial response to Hurricane Katrina. "Some volunteer groups down there got a call from people who said, 'hey, 200 of us are getting on buses, and we're coming down tomorrow to do work.' They went down there with no transportation, no equipment - just ill-prepared. Their hearts are in the right place but we're trying to help people realize they need to think ahead."
That means getting affiliated with a responding group – and often helping out months down the road during long-term recovery.
Sheltering in place can begin without delay if teh community is trained to respond effectively
November 14th - Army Corps of Engineers works with FEMA to open shelter in place recovery coordinating centersRelease date:November 16, 2012Release Number:4086-015
LINCROFT, N.J. -- FEMA, the state of New Jersey, volunteer agencies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working out of the State-FEMA Joint Field Office in Lincroft, NJ, began a Shelter In Place Assistance Program Nov. 14 to help New Jersey residents recover following Hurricane Sandy.
The program provides training, mentoring, and materials by Army engineers to Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) members, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, Mennonite and Methodist Men.
“The most important part of recovery is helping those affected by Hurricane Sandy get back to a sense of normalcy,” said Joel Hendrix, South Atlantic Division, Chief Readiness and Contingency Operations, who is leading the Corps efforts. “Nothing brings more stability to someone affected by disaster than getting back into their home.”
The program seeks to give VOAD groups the skills and materials necessary to make minor, temporary repairs to homes, such as boarding up windows with plywood. Allowing people to return to their homes so quickly after a disaster, said Hendrix, not only gives them time to make more permanent repairs but also minimizes the number of people seeking temporary shelter.
About 500 homes, many of which suffered water damage, will be assessed for possible repairs.
“Our job is to support the governor and the volunteers,” Hendrix said.
The Corps’ team is working in close coordination with FEMA, and state and locals officials.