HARRISBURG, Pa. -- An East Greenville resident was honored at the White House on Wednesday for helping Pennsylvanians recover from Hurricane Sandy. Brian Buhman, a volunteer state coordinator of field operations with Team Rubicon USA, is a finalist in the White House “Champions of Change” initiative.
As a new state coordinator of field operations with Team Rubicon USA, a nonprofit disaster response service group of U.S. military veterans, Buhman was among the first responders to Hurricane Sandy. Since the days immediately after the storm, Buhman, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, has spent at least 150 hours supervising and working alongside some 50 Team Rubicon volunteers. They cleared trees from approximately 20 private properties throughout Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties. Buhman and his teams located and approached property owners who were identified on lists developed and maintained by county emergency managers.
“It just seemed like there was always a need,” Buhman said. “Just when we thought we had covered all of the impacted homes in an area, we would hear from an organization such as the local United Way that more homes were identified.”
Buhman is one example of hundreds of engaged volunteers who have spent hours tirelessly helping after Hurricane Sandy. Many volunteers have assisted their neighbors by clearing debris, helping with reconstruction projects and providing emotional support here in Pennsylvania – as well as supporting residents in the bordering states of New York and New Jersey.
“Volunteers like Brian Buhman have been a vital piece of the recovery process since Hurricane Sandy,” said Commonwealth Coordinating Officer Glenn M. Cannon, with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
Many volunteers have been affiliated with member groups of Southeastern Pennsylvania Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (SEPA VOAD). SEPA VOAD coordinates planning efforts and matches community needs with services provided by its member agencies. This cooperative effort is an effective way for a wide variety of organizations to work together in a crisis. Team Rubicon USA is one of those organizations.
“Brian Buhman from Team Rubicon was fantastic and a great new addition to SEPA VOAD,” said Liberty Lutheran Services Volunteer Engagement and Disaster Response Co-coordinator Julia Menzo. “The impact of Buhman’s work has meant a lot to homeowners and all of us as Team Rubicon’s partners. The organization is bringing a great deal of trained volunteers to our region and they are able to provide leadership and help with assessments.”
Being involved in disaster response comes naturally to Buhman. “I like going out and helping. It’s part of being a veteran – we strive in these kinds of situations,” he said.
Team Rubicon USA is comprised of individuals just like Buhman. The organization unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. This activity provides veterans with a chance to continue serving by helping and empowering those afflicted by disasters. To learn more about Team Rubicon USA, see: TeamRubiconUSA.org/.
“Brian Buhman and others with Team Rubicon USA, as well as the multitude of individuals who responded to the needs of their neighbors after Hurricane Sandy, made vital contributions to the robust storm recovery still in process in Pennsylvania,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Thomas J. McCool.
The White House Champions of Change initiative highlights the extraordinary activity of Americans as they support their communities. Every week, “Champions of Change” finalists are invited to the White House to be acknowledged for their contributions and to share their ideas. To learn more about the “Champions of Change” program, see: WhiteHouse.gov/champions.
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. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary and www.youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion3.