Disaster Relief Committee
Aftermath & Recovery From Hurricane IKE
It’s been quite a spring and summer. We’ve seen floods in the Midwest, and now hurricanes, with Gustav and Ike striking the northwest Gulf shores.
It is clear that many lessons have been learned by FEMA, the Red Cross, and other First Response Agencies. Supplies have been staged well in advance, and have reached major distribution points quickly. But a weakness in the system remains getting supplies and man-power to outlying areas. Chapters that were not impacted directly, but are proximate to the stricken areas can help by reaching out to these smaller communities. Assistance you can provide includes providing transport of supplies from the larger staging areas to smaller communities, coordinating with local churches and community and safety agencies like fire departments. Also, seek out where FEMA is distributing tarps. A tarp is just so much canvas unless one is able to get it in place on the roofs. Put together teams of members with ladders, nails, hammers, roofing tar and lathe to provide installation of the tarps for those unable, particularly the elderly and disabled. The FEMA tarp distribution points, local churches, and service agencies I’m sure would be able to provide you with enough work to keep you busy. Check with your local Lowe’s, Home Depot’s and hardware’s for donation of the materials necessary.
As for donations, we are currently asking that all donations be sent to the Texas State Council, to assure prompt distribution. Credit Card donations can be made through the VVA National web site (www.vva.org) through the disaster relief page. The address for the Texas State Council is: PO Box 1860, Fritch, TX 79036.
A message from the vva disaster relief committee
As we have learned from past hurricane events, the initial focus of relief by the government, Red Cross, and other such agencies is focused on those areas with the largest population, as well as locations where the storms come ashore with the most severe weather. However storms generally retain strength well inland, wreaking havoc with both torrential rains and high winds, leaving small and often rural communities suffering at the end of the emergency supply line. Aid is needed in these remote locations to repair infrastructure. Emergency assistance are desparately needed in these communities.
From lessons learned, both by other service organizations and agencies as well as VVA, there are some very valuable activities we can be doing that do not interfere with others' efforts. These do not require substantial expenditures but can provide much-needed services.
While in Louisiana on a supply run post-Katrina, I was approached by a FEMA representative. He was located near a major distribution facility, and had pallets of tarps for roofs. Having the supplies available was just not enough. Most people coming to him needed tarps and help installing them -- the elderly, single moms, and others who had neither the ability nor the support system to actually get the tarps up on their roofs.
A proposal for chapters wishing to help would be to put together crews with ladders, hammers, nails, wood slats, and roofing tar to provide this most-needed service. With a plan in hand, I’m sure companies such as Lowes, Home Depot, Ace and/or True Value Hardware, etc., would be willing to donate building materials for such a cause. Also, as our members often have pick-up trucks and/or trailers, they might be welcome to work along with the volunteer agencies and FEMA to provide local deliveries of supplies to those unable to get to them otherwise.
These are just a couple suggestions that VVA members can do to help generate relief at the local (chapter) level. I’m sure those members and chapters of VVA located in the stricken areas can find other needs to fill also.
We, of the National Disaster Relief Committee, remain available to assist. Funds are available for qualifying grants to chapters and members, and donations are still accepted through the Disaster Relief page of the National Web Site. But more important, we can advise and assist based on our experience and the lessons we have learned.
VVA’s National Disaster Relief Committee lacks the ability to lead in local relief efforts, but is here to react to your needs and efforts at the member, local, and state levels. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at the numbers or email address provided below, or Tom Hall at (813) 655-7129 and marineDI@aol.com .
A message from the Disaster