TRENTON, N.J. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is partnered with a variety of non-profit organizations to provide crucial assistance to New Jersey residents after the recent flooding. National and local voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) are fundamental to emergency relief and support in any federal disaster mission. It would be impossible to carry out the sheer volume of services offered by these collective organizations as quickly and effectively as any single group or federal agency.
Through a VAL, or Voluntary Agency Liaison, FEMA assists the VOLAGs with federal assistance programs, deadlines, coordination with other volunteer organizations and donation management. They also identify special needs populations and help applicants avoid duplication of benefits. VOLAGs are organized on a state level in groups called Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOADs) that work constantly on local disaster preparedness and supply. This vigilance gives the VOLAGs the ability to go into action immediately when needed without duplication of services.
Once immediate mass care, housing, and human services began after the floods, other non-profit organizations arrived with support in the form of food, volunteers, and supplies. Some of the assistance came from large umbrella organizations with a local focus; like the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey, and the United Way of Mercer County.
Like the Trenton Diocese of Catholic Charities, faith-based agencies have also been crucial to the response along with other organizations specialized in one type of service, such as the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. These agencies’ efforts are not financed by the federal government but instead are provided by volunteers through charitable donations.
After personal resources such as insurance settlements are expended, and Stafford Act provisions through the U.S. Small Business Administration loans and FEMA disaster assistance are distributed, voluntary organizations will lead the long term
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.