Volunteer highlight: Helping to rebuild after Hurricane Isaac
CAPTION: All Hands Volunteers work to repair a roof damaged from Hurricane Isaac. (Photo courtesy of All Hands Volunteers)
The national media attention about the Hurricane Isaac recovery has dwindled, yet some of the toughest work remains ahead in the areas impacted by the storm. Over the past few weeks, we’ve highlighted the work of some of the non-profit and voluntary agencies pitching in to help the affected survivors and communities – organizations you may have heard of, like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the Humane Society.
The efforts of volunteer groups, large and small, as well as established and up-and-coming, have continued in full force across the Gulf Coast region since Isaac made landfall. One of those partners, All Hands Volunteers, continues to make an impact in the affected areas by organizing groups of volunteers to tackle a variety of projects. As part of the National Voluntary Organizations After Disasters (National VOAD), they are committed to being actively involved in emergency response and recovery efforts for disasters across the country. Jeremey Horan, Director of Operations of All Hands Volunteers, was kind enough to offer his perspective of Hurricane Isaac and share All Hands Network’s model for rapid response.
Here is Jeremey’s story:
On August 28, Hurricane Isaac, which had already raged its way across Haiti and the Florida Keys, made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. For days, its torrential rains drenched southern Mississippi and caused local flooding conditions that displaced families and destroyed properties.
As part of All Hands Volunteers’ rapid response model, we were on the ground in Vicksburg, MS the day the storm struck. Since it was confirmed that the three counties surrounding Biloxi were being heavily affected, we swiftly moved south to launch an assessment of the storm’s impact to determine how voluntary resources could be utilized to help those affected.
In many ways, we felt a bit of déjà vu, because it had been exactly seven years earlier that David Campbell, our executive director, formed Hands On USA to respond to the same area after Hurricane Katrina. Our name has changed, but our mission has not — we want to provide immediate, effective and sustainable support to communities in need by harnessing the energy and commitment of dedicated volunteers.
We also want to empower communities to swiftly and competently manage the chaos that typically surrounds a disaster event — especially as it relates to the pairing of community needs with volunteers to meet them.
As a member of National VOAD, we attended Southern Mississippi VOAD meetings in Biloxi and were quickly apprised of the known needs and helped to shape situational awareness based on our assessment findings. In collaboration with the VOAD, we were able to effectively vet pockets of unmet homeowner need and begin to clarify the scope of Isaac’s impact in communities along the MS Gulf Coast.
As a result, All Hands Volunteers is working to address the needs created by Isaac, working with volunteers who have pre--registered through virtual volunteer reception centers, getting homeowners to the next step in their recovery through direct service work. Because of the leadership provided by VOAD, we were able to access information before flood waters receded and to begin the process of aiding a community in its recovery.
(Photo courtesy of All Hands Volunteers)
(Photo courtesy of All Hands Volunteers)
Editor’s note: FEMA is providing the following examples for your reference. FEMA does not endorse any non-government organizations, companies or applications. The views expressed above do not necessarily represent the official views of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Learn more about organizations that are part of National VOAD at www.nvoad.org.
- Apply Online for FEMA Assistance or Apply/Check your status by phone (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585
- Info you need to file for federal assistance
- Tips to recover after a disaster
- Search for a Disaster Recovery Center to speak with a FEMA representative in person
- Let your friends/family know you're safe