Handling Disasters in Georgia
Below are some activities GAVOAD leadership will perform during disasters:
- Gather brief reports from member organizations concerning their disaster activities and share them with the other members. Ask members to report how they are responding to the disaster to a particular person (determined in advance, for example, a VOAD officer). This communication could take place by phone, fax, or e-mail; whichever is quickest and most useful for the members. This information sharing may foster coordination among organizations on particular projects.
- Convene a meeting of all voluntary agency members at or near the disaster site during state-level and/or federally–declared disasters. Do this through a member organization that is equipped to publicize the meeting and help lead it. This organization is usually the American Red Cross, through its liaison officer. A meeting such as this creates the conditions for coordinated responses by VOAD members and gives visibility to the VOAD and its ideals. At the meeting, member organizations should explain what their organizations are doing, be alert for any areas of duplication, and look for ways to coordinate their responses. Depending on the severity of the disaster, subsequent meetings may be scheduled.
- Work behind the scenes to identify a group or groups to guide the long-term recovery. Stay involved with disaster response events as they shift into the recovery phase. Use your experience and judgment to encourage the creation of a resource coordination committee—this group will often have a strong interfaith organization as a member. Also, if a number of community-based organizations new to disaster relief are interested, this would be a good time to create a new local VOAD, which could look beyond the recovery efforts to "the next time."
- When the recovery is well underway, convene a special VOAD meeting to maintain the momentum created by the disaster. Members will have some perspective on the disaster response, and they will have experienced how essential coordinated action is to effective responses. This would provide an excellent opportunity to discuss the lessons learned, revise plans, strengthen preparedness, and recruit new members.