How to respond to a disaster

Georgia VOAD members respond to disasters in Georgia, and you help is always needed.  Recovery for the community and survivors can last months and years.  It is through the generous contributions of time and resources from volunteers and nonprofit/volunteer organizations that these communities and survivors can truly rebuild.

Cash is the most effective method of donating and helping survivors.  It offers nonprofit/voluntary organizations the flexibility in obtaining the needed resources and brings money into the local economy, helping business recover.  Identify a local organization that you trust and donate directly to them or donate to one of the local or national nonprofit/voluntary organizations.  CREATE LINK

Unsolicited donated goods such as clothing, household items, and mixed or perishable foods, may not be needed.  These non-solicited items need to be received, sorted, stored and redistributed when not needed, redirecting valuable resources away from meeting the actual needs.

If you choose to send in-kind donations, call your local emergency management agency or nonprofit/voluntary organization and find out what is indeed needed.

Affiliate with a nonprofit or voluntary organization before arriving in a disaster area, and make sure your organization has been asked to respond by the local community.

Why affiliate? Don’t underestimate the complexity of a working disaster area.  Immediately following a disaster, a community can become overwhelmed by the number of generous people who want to help.  By affiliating with an established organization will help ensure you are appropriately trained to respond in the most effective, safe way.

Seeing images of disaster may compel you to head to the impacted area. Don?t underestimate the complexity of working in a disaster area. Until a need has been identified and the local community impacted has requested support, volunteers should not enter.

  • Be sure to contact the local emergency management agency before coming to the disaster area.
  • Wait until it is safe to travel to volunteer sites and opportunities have been identified.
  • Once assigned a position, make sure you have been given an assignment and are wearing proper safety gear for the task.

Be patient. Recovery lasts a lot longer than the media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months, often years, after the disaster, especially when the community enters the long-term recovery period.