County seeks volunteers to aid when disaster strikes

Published 11:00 pm Monday, September 26, 2011

When disasters strike, it is up to the local community to take care of the immediate needs of such as event. Communities must be prepared to do so.

An organizational meeting of the Pike County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster took place at noon Monday at the American Legion Post 70 building in Troy.

Lawrence Bowden, Pike County EMA board member, said Pike County VOAD is the state counterpart to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

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“The mission of the Pike County VOAD is humanitarian association of independent voluntary organizations that may be active in all phases of disaster,” Bowden said. “Its mission is to foster efficient, streamlined service delivery to people affected by disaster, while eliminating unnecessary duplication of effort. This is done through cooperation in the four phases of disaster – preparation, response, recovery and mitigation.”

Bowden said that Pike County VOAR is not a competing or exclusionary organization.

“Pike County VOAD is intended to be a network for organizations active in disaster,” he said. “Each Pike County VOAD member organization will maintain its own identity and independence while closely collaborating with other Pike County VOAD member organizations, churches, and local, state or federal authorities.”

Pike County VOAD will accomplish its mission through cooperation with member organizations, coordinating the implementation of services among members, communicating information about member organizations and the public and through dedication in working together to achieve specific goals and to undertake specific projects.”

Robert Thomas, operations division, Alabama Emergency Management Agency, told those in attendance that volunteers are essential to the response efforts during any disaster.

“When disaster strikes, people on the local level are the first to respond,” he said. “Until a disaster, most people would probably say, ‘EMA who?’ So, it’s those people who are a part of the community that they would look to first for help. When the EMA comes in, we don’t aren’t there to tell people how to do their business. We are there to bring resources together to assist those whose lives have been affected.”

Thomas said for a VOAD organization to be effective, it must have strong member organizations with volunteers who are committed to the cause.

For more information or to become a volunteer with Pike County VOAD, contact Bowden at 334-735-3898.