Anytime Mother Nature throws a curve and a weather disaster strikes, everyone wants to help. In the early days following a disaster there are many things that need to be done and to be done quickly and time does not allow for the training of well-meaning able-bodied volunteers. There are local trainings offered for volunteers who want to serve during a disaster. Plan ahead and be prepared.
The American Red Cross trains volunteers to be members of the Disaster Action team. Once trained these volunteers response to local emergencies like fires, floods, tornados and ice storms. Experienced Red Cross volunteers can be and are deployed to disasters in other parts of the country. You can go online to www.redcross.org and register to volunteer. Once a background check has been completed, training will be scheduled.
In Wyandotte County, the Unified Government Emergency Management Office offers C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team) training. This training provides the average citizen knowledge about basic disaster preparedness and basic disaster response skills. Check the Unified Government web site (www.wycokck.org) for more information.
Another way to help at the time of a disaster is make a financial contribution to a reputable charity. The Red Cross, Salvation Army and the United Way are some of the recognized nonprofits that step forward to collect contributions. This may vary with each disaster.
Immediately following a disaster is not the time to collect shoes, T-shirts and household goods. In most cases, individuals and families are living in temporary situations. Non-profits working in the affected areas generally do not have storage space for non-consumable items. They are focused on meeting immediate needs of providing shelter and food for those affected and the first responders.
For more information on how you can give, advocate and volunteer, contact 913-371-3674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find volunteer opportunities by checking out the website, www.unitedway-wyco.org and click on Volunteer.
Diane Hentges is director of the Volunteer Center at the United Way of Wyandotte County.