In The Aftermath Of Sandy, Volunteers Were A Vital Resource

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When a disaster strikes, volunteers are a vital resource. They represent the compassionate face that brings comfort to disaster survivors and provides for their immediate needs.

One group of volunteers was recognized last November when Middletown, N.J. Mayor Anthony P. Fiore presented the Key to the City to Dave Karr, whose volunteer staff from the Southern Baptist Convention, Oklahoma Disaster Relief, prepared more than 1.5 million meals for disaster survivors. Asbury Park, N.J., Jan. 17, 2013 -- The Calvary Chapel Relief volunteers, a FEMA Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) organization, works tirelessly on the Asbury Park boardwalk removing damaged boards while prepping the walk for the installation of new boards. VOAD is the forum where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle to help disaster survivors and their communities through recovery. Adam DuBrowa/ FEMA

“It was a real honor,” Karr said. “I was told they rarely do this. I accepted on behalf of the whole Oklahoma team.” Karr’s team and the organization they represent are typical of the volunteers working in New Jersey, both locally and from out of state. More than 100 organizations manage thousands of dedicated volunteers. Here are some of the major organizations and their services:

Adventist Community Services – manages warehouse distribution of supplies for disaster survivors. 

Mennonite Disaster Service – doing clean up, repairs, and rebuilding homes.

The Salvation Army – provided Thanksgiving dinner or lunch in several locations throughout the state. The Transitional Sheltering Assistance social services programs connect needs with available resources.

Samaritans Purse – doing muck outs, removing dirt and debris; cleaning up and sanitizing homes to prevent mold.

Southern Baptist Convention/Oklahoma Disaster Relief – 117 volunteers prepared more than 1.5 million meals to date, and is deploying 41 emergency relief vehicles across New Jersey to continue feeding disaster survivors.

The Red Cross – more than 4,000 volunteers assisting with meals, sheltering, essential supplies, and health services.

United Methodist Committee on Relief – volunteers working on “muck outs.”

Catholic Charities – 363 volunteers serving at relief sites offered financial and other material assistance to some 3,000 families. The sites are now closed.

Voluntary Agency Liaison staff at FEMA work with the state umbrella organization, New Jersey Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. FEMA provides information on the extent of damage from the disaster to VOAD. The organization then contacts its local partners who provide direct services to disaster survivors.

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