BATON ROUGE, La. — Since Hurricane Isaac struck Louisiana in late August, the public has been an important part of the emergency management team by volunteering time, money, and energy helping disaster survivors and their communities.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its partner, Louisiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (LA VOAD), are committed to fostering the Four Cs: communication, coordination, collaboration and cooperation.
LA VOAD is the primary statewide point of contact for voluntary organizations assisting with Hurricane Isaac disaster needs. It is also the forum where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle — preparation, response and recovery — to help disaster survivors and their communities.
Members of Louisiana VOAD have done valuable work throughout the state since Isaac struck. Many are community- and faith-based groups, providing people with basic household needs, helping with clean-up and repair, and planning for longer-term recovery. Some have fostered cultural sensitivity and awareness, providing for particular needs of ethnic groups. Others are health care professionals who have counseled survivors at shelters and in their communities as they continue to cope with stress.
Whether or not you live in one of the affected parishes, you can support the ongoing response and recovery efforts in several ways. Listed below are tips for Louisianians who want to donate goods and services or volunteer their time and energy to help disaster survivors:
- Register at www.volunteerlouisiana.org to receive updates and information on volunteer opportunities as they are identified.
- For opportunities in Plaquemines Parish, call the Committee for Plaquemines Recovery at 1-504-564-0309.
- For opportunities in St. John Parish, call the hotline at 1-985-359-1024
- Visit Louisiana VOAD website at www.lavoad.org and click on the “How to Help” tab for information and links on how to volunteer or donate.
- A financial contribution is the most efficient method of donating and offers voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources. You can donate money directly to Louisiana VOAD members including texting a donation to the American Red Cross or Salvation Army at www.nvoad.org.
- If you have a quantity of a given item to donate, and you need help in determining which organizations to give to, you can make your offer through the National Donations Management Network by clicking “Louisiana” on the drop down menu at www.aidmatrixnetwork.org.
- Also at this website, click on “Louisiana” on the interactive map for updated parish-specific opportunities for volunteers.
- Join up with existing nonprofit organizations before coming to the disaster area. A community easily can become overwhelmed by the amount of generous people who want to help. Contacting and affiliating with an established organization will help to ensure that you are appropriately trained to respond in the most effective way.
- Confirm the need before donating goods. Unsolicited donated goods require voluntary agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
For more information on Louisiana disaster recovery, click www.fema.gov/disaster/4080 or www.gohsep.la.gov. You can follow FEMA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion6 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FEMA. Also visit our blog at www.fema.gov/blog.