Disaster Response Update

Updated: 9/14/2008 11:21 AM EST

Volunteers Needed!

Rain, rain, rain

Affiliates in Texas are actively recruiting volunteers to respond to the special needs of evacuees. As search and rescue efforts and damage assessments continue, volunteers will be needed to remove debris so recovery can begin. In Dallas, non-medical volunteers, clerical support and runners are needed in the main shelter. Interested individuals should contact Jess Wade - jdwade@dallascounty.org. Sign language interpreters are also needed. If you have these special skills, please call Mitzy Gardner at 972-744-4212 or 214-808-6184. HandsOn Affiliates from California to Florida are prepared to assist and stand by, awaiting the call for volunteers. Damage assessments will begin on Monday, but it will be midweek before full damage reports are available. While Hurricane Ike spared Louisiana a direct hit, the coastal areas were inundated with a storm surge that crawled some 30 miles inland, flooding tens of thousands of homes and making many roads impassable. Affiliates in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are preparing to mobilize volunteers and work towards restoring these communities. Volunteers should register at www.volunteerlouisiana.org.

Help is still needed: VOLUNTEER. DONATE.

Today affiliates in Texas and Louisiana prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Ike and Affiliates in surrounding states prepare to receive evacuees.

Hands On New Orleans (HONO) has relocated to Baton Rouge and is connecting local volunteers to needs. Affiliates in the area continue to recruit volunteers, participate with conference calls and coordinate long term recovery from the devastation caused by Gustav less than two weeks ago. The action center has deployed teams to Acadiana and Houma to repair roof damage, remove debris, and provide necessary materials and safety equipment throughout the region. Kellie Bentz, HONO Executive Director, continues to participate in VOAD conference calls to ensure that assistance is being provided as strategically and effectively as possible. She continues to coordinate long term recovery efforts with Affiliates throughout the state from the devastation caused by Gustav. Hands On Gulf Coast volunteers are rebuilding volunteer camps that were destroyed by water for the Red Cross and other response organizations. Volunteers are assisting with the clean-up and relocation process for those who were living in FEMA trailers and cottages that were destroyed by water surges. This team will continue to partner with other voluntary organizations to leverage the volunteer resources needed to respond to community needs. A disaster response team from the national office continues to coordinate efforts and share information throughout the Network to ensure the volunteer resources and volunteer management expertise required is available if additional support is needed  

The Home Depot generously donated $25,000 to equip the volunteer teams with necessary supplies and materials to begin the recovery work, allowing Hands On New Orleans and Hands On Gulf Coast to ramp up the volunteer deployment to the most impacted areas. Gustav Response

Seven HandsOn affiliates provided direct support to address identified needs following the devastation left by Hurricane Gustav. We give special thanks to:

  • Cape Fear Volunteer Center in Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Hands On Nashville
  • Texarkana Volunteer Center in Arkansas
  • Voluntary Action Center in the mid-Missouri
  • Volunteer Center of North Texas
  • Volunteer Center of Central Oklahoma
  • Volunteer San Diego

Hands On Birmingham dedicated 7 staff members to recruit and manage unaffiliated volunteers during Hurricane Gustav. 557 volunteers completed 3,220 hours of service in Jefferson, Shelby, and Walker counties. Volunteers assisted with Red Cross shelters, loaded/staged equipment, provided bourishment to evacuees and managed emergency animal shelters.

Gustav Response: Detailed Update

The Network continues its support to the American Red Cross, FEMA, State Emergency Management offices, the Salvation Army, and local VOAD Chapters and numerous faith-based organizations. We are aiding in meeting response and recovery needs through effective management and placement of volunteers. Hands On New Orleans continues to distribute materials and supplies with the National Guard in Baton Rouge as Hands On Nashville volunteers – 75 strong – assemble 2,000 food boxes in support of America’s Second Harvest and San Diego is operating a call center to support the area as power is still out for millions of residents, impacting response organizations as well.

Support for recovery Gustav recovery and preparedness along the East Coast are both urgent needs at this time.  There is an increased need for SKILLED volunteers, tarps, water, gloves, clean up kits and gasoline.

While the damage is throughout Louisiana, the hardest hit areas are Alexandria, Donaldsville and Houma and priority volunteer mobilization is targeted there. HONO volunteer teams have been distributing materials and supplies with the National Guard in Baton Rouge and the most impacted areas.

The immediate need is to support the Volunteer Response Center that Hands On New Orleans is operating with the state of Louisiana. There are also resource shortages reported throughout the region with specific high demand need for tarps, oxygen, ice and gasoline.

Hands On New Orleans and Hands On Gulf Coast:A combined core team of HONO and HOGC volunteer leaders are in the field assessing volunteer team configuration needs; removing debris and organizing for the influx of the hundreds of volunteers that will be deployed over the next few days. The larger pool of ready volunteers will be assigned to these leaders and new leaders trained as recovery teams are deployed in the field over the next two to three weeks. These volunteers have already begin working on chainsaw teams, helping with debris removal and clearing, tarping roofs and working with the National Guard to distribute supplies to residents and shelters. HONO staff is returning to the office in New Orleans as power has been restored.

Hands On New Orleans activity:

  • Tree cutting teams helping first responders
  • Sorting food with the Food Bank
  • Directing calls from State Emergency Operations Center
  • Responding to volunteers through volunteerlouisiana.org
  • Aiding the Division of Social Services with resident re-entry and support service needs
  • Assessing needs of local and state agencies to facilitate repairs needed to expedite re-entry into communities
  • Coordinating response of State-wide Affiliate Network

Hands On Gulf Coast: 

  • Completed damage assessments and preparing to deploy volunteer teams
  • Tarping roofs and repairing damage to homes
  • Teamed up with HopeForce to send a small immediate volunteer response team out to the Houma, Louisiana area.  Volunteers will be assisting in Houma for the next four to five days tarping roofs and clearing debris.
  • Continues to house Red Cross volunteers and providing assistance to shelters in the high impact areas.

A Hand On Birmingham’s Operation Home Sweet Home is providing logistics support to help evacuees return home.  Birmingham received more than 5,000 evacuees and volunteers have assisted with sheltering, pet care, call center support, lifting and loading supplies and nurturing evacuees in three (3) counties. They have also provided volunteers to support the overall staging of Red Cross shelters.

Hands On Nashville continues to provide support to Second Harvest, helping to produce emergency food boxes for local Red Cross shelters. Additional volunteer support provided by this team of volunteers includes: recruiting shelter volunteers for the Red Cross and working with Nashville Baptist Association to organize volunteers to provide transportation for evacuees to critical health-related appointments to doctors, clinics and pharmacies.

Volunteer San Diego continues to support the recruitment of volunteers to support in the East Coast in anticipation potential damage from the three storms systems heading that way. They are also providing round-the-clock communication with the American Red Cross and continue call center support for 211.

Several Affiliates are continue to support the volunteer management and assistance need for the many shelters providing care and housing including Texarkana Volunteer Center in Arkansas, Voluntary Action Center of mid-Missouri and Volunteer Center of North Texas.  Affiliates on the East Coast that are in high preparedness mode to assist in region wide volunteer recruitment, management and deployment include Cape Fear Volunteer Center  in Wilmington, North Carolina, Greater DC Cares and United Way of Tampa Bay.

Storm Impact Assessment Update

Louisiana evacuated 1.9 million people anticipating the potential damage from Category 2 Hurricane Gustav.  Gustav's winds topped 110 mph and much of the damage involved downed limbs littering roads and flooding of homes.  About 84,500 of those people were in shelters in eight states.  Buses, trains and aircraft stood by to carry residents back to New Orleans.  Residents are encouraged not return to New Orleans before Thursday due to power outages, fallen debris, and severe food shortages.  Those who choose to return are encouraged to bring necessary supplies with them. 

Help Needed!

VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED with a variety of skills, expertise and experience and are encouraged to register now at www.louisianavolunteers.gov or by contacting Thea Becton, HandsOn Network Disaster Program Manager at tbecton@handsonnetwork.org

There is an urgent need for skilled volunteers with carpentry, construction and roofing skills. Contact www.handsongulfcoast.org or www.handsonneworleans.org directly to lend immediate support.

All skill sets will be considered as the situation is assessed and varying needs are identified.   Volunteers are needed to help in shelters and assist organizations handling case management needs once re-entry becomes possible.  

DONATIONS ARE NEEDED to support operation of the Volunteer Reception Center in Louisiana, and to deploy volunteer management experts to meet immediate needs. Please click here to donate direct support to Hands On New Orleans. Cash donations are encouraged since needs change rapidly.

We are working with AidMatrix to make sure needed resources are also available. Please click here to donate non-financial items and to view specific needs posted by the State Offices of Emergency Management and the State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD),

As the hurricane season progresses, we will need to support many affiliates as they organize and manage volunteers throughout the region. To donate to HandsOn Network’s disaster fund that provides resources to support all affiliates to mobilize volunteers for disaster, please click here.

Storm Path Update 

To follow the storms path:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26295161/.  FEMA Situation Reports are published daily by the FEMA National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) and are made available to Emergency Managers and others involved in response and recovery for planning. Click here for the reports http://www.fema.gov/emergency/reports/index.shtm

Special Note

September is National Preparedness Month. Please join HandsOn Network, a national partner of the Ready Campaign, in sharing the information about how to increase preparedness and message community resilience:  Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Stay Informed, Get Involved.   For more information, visit http://www.ready.gov