HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Showing their usual enthusiasm and skills, two teams of AmeriCorps volunteers have come to Pennsylvania at the request of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to work on the devastation left by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. AmeriCorps members sign up for a year, deploying to serve communities wherever they are needed.
One team of volunteers is in Bloomsburg in Columbia County, where Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee devastated a number of homes and left flooded basements and debris-covered lawns and yards. Homeowners whose possessions were destroyed or water-logged had to quickly get them out of the home to avoid the growth of mold. The teams work with other volunteer groups to rid the homes of debris first, and then clear the yards.
The same problems exist in Athens and Sayre in Bradford County, where the second AmeriCorps team is working with local volunteers to help return families to safe living conditions. Teams are assigned to a site for two weeks. After they help clean up the home they rotate into other communities struck by the storms, ending their time in the Commonwealth when all requests for their help are met.
"The AmeriCorps Teams are a welcome resource during tough times when every hand is needed, said PEMA Voluntary Agency Liaison Martin Miller. "Homeowners are very grateful for their help." Miller works with his Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) counterpart, Anthony Buller who agreed. "We know we can count on these young people to show up and help out when there is a disaster," Buller added.
PEMA and FEMA encourage residents, workers and business owners who have disaster-related losses not covered by insurance, to register with FEMA for disaster assistance. Applications are taken online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362). Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585. For those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. Anyone with a disability who needs help registering should call FEMA's 800 number.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.