Columbia, Mo. -- Volunteers responded quickly in the aftermath of Missouri's severe storms, floods and tornadoes, and they continue to work together to support disaster recovery throughout the state.
"We need to be able to move volunteers in and out of individual disasters fluidly, without any disruption," said Quinn Gardner, office coordinator for AmeriCorps-St. Louis.
Her office mobilized the morning after the Good Friday tornado to answer 2-1-1 calls and track and manage the influx of volunteers. They continue to coordinate volunteer work in the state, including the arrival last week of five AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) teams.
"AmeriCorps teams are very versatile," said Gardner, "and they can fulfill a wide variety of tasks."
AmeriCorps has recorded in excess of 258,482 hours of service by more than 33,289 registered volunteers -- stepping forward individually or as members of a wide variety of organizations.
Most voluntary agencies working in the state coordinate their efforts through Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to minimize duplication and to best meet the needs of disaster survivors while providing rewarding volunteer opportunities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also provides coordination through its Volunteer Agency Liaisons (VALs).
The cooperative spirit extends beyond the voluntary agencies, as well. "The current cooperation among the various units of government we are seeing during the response phase will help bring the communities together for long-term recovery," according to John Pyron, case management supervisor for St. Louis Long Term Recovery.
"There were lots of lessons learned here in the early phases, and they were shared when we went into Joplin later," said Starbuck Ballner, a team leader with All Hands who has been working in Missouri since April 25.
"This all combines to become a rolling system that keeps on going," Marny Meserve, Gateway Central District Coordinator for the Missouri United Methodist Disaster Response Team, pointed out.
The working relationship between AmeriCorps and All Hands Volunteers was evident as NCCC team members settled into a church mission building on Diamond Drive in St. Louis last Friday near storm-damaged neighborhoods.
All Hands workers helped orient the NCCC teams to the area in much the same way AmeriCorps-St. Louis staff helped the All Hands personnel when they began arriving within days of the tornado more than two months ago.
The two NCCC teams assigned to St. Louis are nearing the end of their one-year term of service. "They are really excited that they can finish their year helping out here in Missouri," said Brittany Grimaldi, a NCCC team leader from New York.
NCCC is an AmeriCorps program that involves 18-24 year-olds in team-based national and community service in the United States.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal government's primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and covers the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with a speech disability or hearing loss who use a TTY call 1-800-462-7585; or use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) to call 1-800-621-3362.
FEMA's mission is to support our cit...