Be Prepared: Responsible Volunteering - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Be prepared

Be Prepared: Responsible Volunteering

We all know that after disaster strikes, preparedness becomes a community involvement. (Source: WAFF file) We all know that after disaster strikes, preparedness becomes a community involvement. (Source: WAFF file)

Being prepared not only starts with yourself, your family, and your home.

We all know too well that after disaster strikes, preparedness becomes a community involvement.

April 2011, the blizzard of ‘93, and the 1974 Super Outbreak obviously come to mind when thinking about disastrous events… as do countless other dates.

The events, the damage, and the locations all vary but the one thing that always remains the same is the community coming together.

Being prepared to help out before disastrous events can prevent chaos from becoming even more chaotic.

Affiliate early. Find and connect with an organization that you would like to help out when the time comes.

Ashley Whittle Tiedt with Serve Alabama says that ‘by affiliating earlier, they’ve already assessed your different skills, so those people are going to send you to the area you need to be.

"It can't be stressed enough – affiliate early with an organization so they are prepared to send you where you can go," she said. "It also helps people, first responders and state organizations, to have to deal with people just showing up in areas. If you show up with a group, they’re going to know what to do with that group."

A comprehensive list of organizations, filtered by your location and type of service, can be found here or by downloading the ‘2-1-1 Connects Alabama' app.

When the time comes, do not self-deploy. Wait until it is safe to travel to the volunteer sites. Once assigned a position, make sure you are wearing proper safety gear for the task.

"You don’t want to show up in flip-flops. You don’t want to show up in a t-shirt. You want to show up wearing shoes with hard soles and covering your toes. You want to be able to protect yourself so the first responders aren’t having to stop what they’re doing and worry about what you’re doing," said Whittle Tiedt
If you want to provide support with donations, confirm the specific needs before donating items.

A community hit by a disaster does not have the time, manpower, or money to sort and dispose of unneeded donations. Financial contributions allow relief organizations to purchase exactly what items are needed for the response and recovery efforts.
A great way to do that is the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, or GERF. All of the money that goes to the GERF, goes back to the community, such as building community storm shelters, putting sirens in rural areas, and helping to rebuild some of the homes destroyed in disasters.

You can find more information on how to donate to the GERF here.

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