by Chad Driscoll, Volunteer Iowa, AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team, Cadre Support
I have been deployed in a direct service role of mucking and gutting homes after flooding, I have been deployed to help lead volunteers and AmeriCorps teams in cleaning up debris after hurricanes, and I have been deployed in a support role at a Joint Field Office, JFO. On this deployment to Columbia, SC, I am at the JFO, playing a support and coordination role for our AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team (A-DRT), but we are not in the field doing direct service. We are working hand in hand with the FEMA Volunteer Agency Liaisons (VAL) to assist communities in setting up their Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRG). This is a great role for A-DRTs to play as we are working to identify all survivors that still have unmet needs and connect them to other voluntary agencies, in addition to the outreach and planning we are doing with the VALs throughout the state.
It is exciting to be on the ground floor with some of these communities, help them think through their leadership structure, and plan for the recovery efforts for their community so they can continue to create some sense of normal. The A-DRT members are also implementing and supporting the Fast Track Repairs (FTR) process by working with VOAD partners, other voluntary agencies, State, and Federal partners. A-DRTs continue to manage the data of homeowners with unmet needs in Crisis Cleanup and FTR to confirm who continues to need assistance. Being a part of the VAL operations really helps you see how big of hearts this team has. The VALs work hard to bring some sense of hope and connectedness to communities who otherwise are still struggling with figuring out the next steps. The A-DRT members here are making a huge impact and turning many people (FEMA, State and the community leaders) into believers of AmeriCorps and the power of service and volunteerism.
To learn more about the response to the flooding in South Carolina visit the United Way Association of South Carolina, the state service commission for South Carolina at http://www.uwasc.org/sc-flood-fund.