National Service Steps Up to Disaster Response

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Safety and Security

As various parts of the country are hit with disasters ranging from floods to tornadoes to oil spills, national service participants have stepped up to provide vital assistance.  Below is a brief overview of distasters and national service deployment.

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Disaster Response Brief

May 8, 2010

Rhode Island

In mid-March New England experienced heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds that resulted in historic flooding along the Pawtuxet River and damage to properties specifically throughout Rhode Island. A disaster declaration was issued on March 29 declaring much of the state a federal disaster area.

  • One NCCC team is partnering with Serve Rhode Island to address long term recovery efforts.
  • Serve Rhode Island is continuing to partner with 2-1-1, the United Way, and RI Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). Activities include capturing and tracking work requests for volunteer clean up assistance, referring work requests to volunteer organizations, as well as acting as a coordinating and collaborating entity between the various response organizations and agencies.

Mississippi Tornado:

A tornado nearly a mile wide tore through the state of Mississippi on Saturday April, 24. The tornado struck at least 17 counties in the southern state, destroying scores of homes and trapping people inside, damaging businesses, blocking highways and knocking out power to thousands. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency in 17 counties devastated by the storms and twisters, and called on the National Guard to help local officials in their emergency response.

Multiple CNCS resources are on stand by and ready to respond to requests for assistance.

AmeriCorps St Louis Safety Corps (ACSTL)

  • 7 members deployed to Ebenezer City in Holmes County, MS to support the citizen intake center and volunteer reception center.
  • ACSTL is also deployed in Chocktaw Co, St Louis Safety Corps is working to secure donations of pet food to support the abandoned pets.
  • To date 111 work orders have been received and 81 have been completed and a total of 696 hours have been dedicated to the effort in Holmes Co.
  • 36 work orders have been received / 9 completed and a total of 1990.5 hours have been dedicated to the effort in Chocktaw Co.


  • The NCCC Southern Region has deployed 6 Teams (53 Total Members) to respond to the April 27 tornado and to the May 2 spring storm.
  • NCCC is partnering with the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS) to provide assistance in Yazoo City, MS,. One NCCC is assisting in the areas of debris clearing, damage assessment, and search efforts for residents trapped or in need of assistance, as well as carrying out other assigned tasks that will quickly aid residents back to a sense of normalcy.
  • A second team is in Ashland, MS continuing to work with MCVS in removing storm debris.
  • A third NCCC team is working out of Lexington, MS continuing debris removal and other tasks in partnership with MCVS.
  • A forth NCCC Team is assisting the American Red Cross with case management in Corinth, MS and the remaining members of the team are providing support at the ARC HQ office in Jackson, MS.
  • A fifth team is deployed to Weir, MS to work in partnership with MCVS engaging in supply distribution and debris removal.
  • A sixth team deployed today (May 6) to Corinth, MS to assist the American Red Cross in shelter management.

Tennessee Floods:

Memphis, TN – Flooding

The state of Tennessee was hit hard with rain storms in early May. The Cumberland River in Nashville crested at over 51 feet, with flood stages indicated at 40 feet. The historic Grand Ole Opry, Opryland Hotel, and Opry Mills Mall have been submerged in water. The Opryland hotel is closed indefinitely. The cleanup efforts are being coordinated through the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA).

Multiple CNCS resources are on stand by and ready to respond to requests for assistance.

Community HealthCorps

  • The Community Health Care Program at the United Neighborhood Health Centers in Nashville, TN. 8 HealthCorps members are participating in the following activities:
    • Flood Disaster Information and Assistance Center (Coordinated by Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management) -providing information on resources for shelter, housing, food and financial assistance. Members are serving in the hard hit North Nashville/Bordeaux area.
    • Volunteer Donation Line (Coordinated by TEMA and Hands on Nashville)- Members are taking donations from across the state for flood victims.
    • Wellness Checks, Lipscomb University American Red Cross Shelter- Members conducted wellness/medicine checks on displaced homeless residents.
    • Community wellness checks and clean-up- Working with neighborhood organizations to check on residents and assist with debris sorting and removal.

TCCC Hoopa

  • CNCS has received a Mission Assignment (MA) from FEMA. A CNCS Disaster Cadre Member will deploy to TN on Monday to secure logistics for the AmeriCorps Members. We anticipate 20 members from the TCCC Hoop to arrive on Tues or Wed. 20 Atlantic Region NCCC Members are also expected to arrive within the week.


  • 1 team (8 members) from the NCCC Southern Region arrived in Memphis, TN on May 1st to assist the American Red Cross Mid-South Chapter in managing shelters for residents who have evacuated their homes due to the flooding brought on by the heavy rain. This team has been reassigned and will working out of Nashville with the ARC beginning Sat May 8.
  • A team of 10 will deploy on Sunday May 9th to provide additional assistance to the ARC in the Nashville area.

Deep Water Horizon Gulf Coast Oil Spill:

Multiple CNCS resources are on stand by and ready to respond to requests for assistance.

  • CNCS is working with state commissions, offices and VOAD organizations to support effective volunteer services and coordinate information and best practices among the national service community.CNCS remains actively engaged with the National Response Team.
  • Multiple CNCS resources are on stand by and ready to respond to requests for assistance.
  • CNCS continues to staff the National Response Team (NRT) at US Coast Guard (USCG) headquarters in Washington, D.C. CNCS is working on completing an interagency agreement that would allow for reimbursement of oil spill response related costs.
  • The Louisiana State Commission is providing assistance to the NRT Joint Information Center in Robert Louisiana.
  • May 5, 2010 two teams (16 Total Members) from the Pacific Region serving in New Orleans provided NCCC’s first response to the oil spill. The teams partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans to assemble and ship emergency food boxes bound for the Louisiana coast fishing communities whose livelihood is being impacted by the spill.
  • All For Good (the search provider for is working together with CNCS, the Mississippi Commission, EPA and the White House DPC advisor to support a specific oil spill widget and search category that will be used to better connect volunteers to oil spill volunteer opportunities across all affected states. Below is the language posted on the website:

Oil Spill in the Gulf: How You Can Help

As the government mounts a full-scale effort to respond to the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, there are ways that volunteers can help. The response to this spill will be a long-term effort, and as the situation evolves the roles for volunteers are expected to change.

Currently there is a need for trained volunteers with Hazmat, oil cleanup, and wildlife rehabilitation training. Because oil is a hazardous material, volunteer opportunities are limited for unaffiliated, untrained volunteers. Some activities for untrained volunteers include pre-landfall beach cleanup and monitoring the coastline and reporting contamination of wildlife or vegetation.

The affected states have been a driving force in the response effort and are working to identify and coordinate the use and placement of volunteers. Anyone wishing to volunteer should register through one the state service commission websites listed below. Additionally, BP has set up a volunteer hotline for individuals who want to help at 1.866.448.5816.

State Reports on the Oil Spill (as of 5-5-10)


The commission is currently working closely with state emergency management to identify and support community needs related to the oil spill. At present, there is significant volunteer interest and the state is registering volunteers for potential activity. However, the primary activities requiring volunteer assistance involve debris removal from coastal areas pre-landfall to mitigate the hazardous material impacts. To date, over 1,000 volunteers have supported beach cleanup activities. The state is also working through its website to provide useful information to volunteers and voluntary organizations, though there are some important gaps in information to be addressed. Looking ahead, there are potential needs for volunteer coordination support. One option for that support comes from Emergency Management Assistance Compacts (EMAC) with other AmeriCorps programs managed by state agencies (Ex. Washington Conservation Corps). No human service needs have been identified (for those economically impacted by the spill) though preparation discussions are underway. The state is engaged in productive conversations with BP officials to provide training and support for volunteer activity. BP has discussed providing volunteer support at the rate of $10 per volunteer hour.


The state is working closely with state emergency management and engaging in cleanup activities similar to Florida. They are expected to complete their mitigation activities today. The state has worked closely with BP officials on issues of training and is working on identifying and providing appropriate training for volunteers. The state 211 system serves as the state volunteer registration portal. Sydney Hoffman, the Commission Executive Director is supporting the Unified Command Center in Mobile, AL. The state has also activated the coastal county Emergency Operations Center in anticipation of increased local needs. They are also conducting townhall meetings to identify and address human services needs.


The state commission recently met with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to discuss volunteer activities and organize beach cleanup mitigation activities. The state is also working to consolidate all of the different volunteer registration portals into one system to prevent double counting of volunteer and the duplication of efforts. The commission is also making plans for standing up Volunteer Reception Centers (VRC). Efforts are underway with BP officials to clarify training requirements and reduce the 40 hour training course to make is more practicable for voluntary organizations.


Given that the state coastline is primarily marshland, the state has not engaged in the same mitigation efforts and has less current activity for registered volunteers. Janet Pace, the Commission Executive Director is serving in the multi-agency operations center in Robert, LA. She is working closely with BP officials on volunteer management issues. At present, BP reports four thousand registered volunteers, with the state registering 1,250. Louisiana has convened a group of disaster and environmental organizations to collaboratively work on oil spill and volunteer issues. The state is planning to open its VRC, with a focus on getting volunteers trained, specifically with hazardous materials, safety and wildlife. These volunteers will not engage in animal cleanup as that requires additional specialized training not currently provided.

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