Washington, D.C. -- Today, Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), joined Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-4), and other leaders at the launch of a program that leverages social media, strategic partnerships with the National Weather Service, faith-based groups, and other key agencies to give citizens more information and tools to prepare for disasters.
The new initiative builds on an existing program, Ready Alabama, which is administered by Serve Alabama and the Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Service. The new piece of this program comes from Gov. Bentley's Tornado Recovery Action Council report on the state's response after tornadoes struck many Alabama counties in April 2011.
The announcement comes as officials are monitoring and coordinating efforts related to Tropical Storm Isaac.
Spencer commended Gov. Bentley for his leadership and said that her agency would continue to partner with state officials to prepare for and recover from disasters.
“The images of destruction from last year's tornadoes were heartbreaking, but the way communities across Alabama came together to help their neighbors was inspiring,” Spencer said. “We were proud to be a part of that effort, and we will continue to work with state and local leaders to engage citizens in preparing for potential disasters. I commend Gov. Bentley and Serve Alabama for their leadership in creating innovative ways to raise awareness about this important issue.”
Spencer cited examples of CNCS programs enlisted members of its programs and volunteers and to help communities recover and rebuild from last year's tornadoes:
- More than 290 members of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps provided more than 55,000 hours of community service.
- In Calhoun County, the Retired Senior Volunteers Program registered 3,000 volunteers and supported more than 400 tornado victims with clothing, food, and supplies.
- In Marshall County, the state agency mobilized nearly 200 volunteers to help storm victims and relief workers.
- In Tuscaloosa County, more than 150 of CNCS volunteers managed donations, provided transportation, and supported the local Red Cross.
Spencer also credited the leadership of Jon Mason, executive director of Serve Alabama, and Jacqueline Bishop, who oversees CNCS's AmeriCorps VISTA and Senior Corps programs as the agency's Alabama state director. Rep. Aderholt, whose district includes many communities hit by last year's severe storms, attended today's announcement. In addition, Kelly DeGraff, senior advisor and director of disaster services at CNCS, accompanied Spencer.
CNCS's involvement in Alabama is part of the agency's ongoing commitment to disaster preparedness. From forest fires and floods, to hurricanes and tornadoes, to terror attacks and oil spills, participants in CNCS programs have provided critical support to millions of Americans affected by disasters since 1994. Reflecting the agency's growing expertise and commitment in disaster preparedness and response, CNCS has made disaster services one of agency's focus areas for its 2011-2015 Strategic Plan. The CNCS Disaster Services Unit has agency-wide responsibility for coordination of CNCS disaster services activities, providing expertise, ongoing support, and access to a network of dedicated volunteers.