The University of Montana
The Rockies and Great Plains states (Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota) feature expansive geography (392,691 square miles) and small population (3,074,371 people) or fewer than person per square mile. Arizona and Colorado, while hosting major urban centers, are similar in that they are largely rural and face similar challenges around disaster preparedness. Those factors mean that when disasters occur, and according to the American Red Cross of Montana they do every 31 hours, a greater response time is necessary than in more densely populated states. Additionally fewer volunteers are available to respond. Over the past five years, the Montana Campus Compact and American Red Cross of Montana (MTCC-ARCMT) have entered into an ambitious partnership focused on moving Montana's colleges and universities toward a more central role as key players in responding to and serving as shelters when disasters occur. A recent partnership success came in the spring of 2011 when massive flooding forced hundreds on the Crow Reservation out of their homes. An AmeriCorps member assigned to the MTCC-ARCMT partnership worked tirelessly and helped move hundreds of community members into temporary housing in the dormitories of Montana State University-Billings, recently set up as a shelter by Corps members. With key support from the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps members placed with this partnership are working to expand the number of volunteers available to Red Cross Disaster Teams around Montana. The overall objective of the proposed project is to build on the partnership's successful past and create a larger and more geographically robust network of trained Red Cross volunteers to respond to disasters. Funding will be used to build organizational capacity in the form of volunteer training and local disaster plan development. This initiative will honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 by utilizing the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance as the timeframe to prepare communities for disasters, and will incorporate a theme of honoring September 11 across all activities, media outreach and communication.
This proposal marks the launch of a bold new phase in the MTCC-ARCMT partnership. Specifically, the resources requested will directly result in more Native American disaster volunteers, more campuses engaged as shelters, and communities currently lacking adequate volunteer capacity coming on-line as ready to respond. New volunteers will receive the latest Red Cross training and will help ensure that when disaster strikes Northern Rockies and Great Plains states possess greater capacity to respond and more volunteers. Working together, MTCC-ARCMT will launch an ambitious volunteer recruitment campaign, making a targeted push to engage students, faculty and staff from the region's higher education institutions.
This project will focus on building and training disaster action teams to ensure that local communities have the tools to prepare for, prevent and respond to disasters. The hub communities of Great Falls, Missoula, Kalispell, Butte, Helena, Billings, and the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana, as well as Sheridan, Wyoming and Minot, North Dakota will all take part in this effort, along with nearby towns and cities. Across its two-year span, we expect that a minimum of 2000 volunteers will directly take part in service projects and volunteer training.