Washington D.C. – Additional AmeriCorps members have deployed to provide disaster relief in the areas of five states that saw significant destruction during the recent storms.
An AmeriCorps NCCC team of 12 members began work in West Liberty, KY, after traveling to the area from the campus in Vicksburg, MS over the weekend. Three AmeriCorps VISTAs have opened a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) in the same city and seven additional VISTAs are supporting a state-run call center in Frankfort, KY on a rotating basis.
Kentucky saw considerable damage, as it was struck by tornadoes and serve storms on both February 29 and March 2. Areas of the state received an official federal disaster declaration on March 6 and Robert Velasco, II, Acting CEO for the Corporation for National and Community Service called Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to brief him on the national service response.
A 10-member AmeriCorps NCCC team based out of the Denver campus has deployed to Missouri to contribute to relief efforts in Branson and Kimberling City. They arrived on Saturday March 3 and immediately started work coordinating volunteers in the field, removing debris, and conducting assessments on the needs of affected homeowners.
The AmeriCorps NCCC members joined the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team, which arrived in Taney and Stone counties less than 24 hours after the storms hit and established two Volunteer Reception Centers (VRCs) in Branson and Kimberling City.
“It is an honor to work alongside AmeriCorps St. Louis to serve the people of Missouri,” said Nick Connolly, Team Leader with AmeriCorps NCCC Sun 3 Team. “Through volunteers, robust disaster relief and recovery efforts are able to help those affected get back on their feet.”
To date, the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team has registered more than 550 volunteers to assist with disaster relief efforts, and more than 30 affected homeowners have received assistance with debris removal, tarping, and other services.
In Indiana, ten Senior Corps members with the Interfaith Council Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of New Albany are administering a VRC in Clark County, home of the seriously damaged communities of Henryville, Marysville, and Borden.
This week, ten AmeriCorps members with Lutheran Social Services of Illinois will partner with the 1st Baptist Church of Harrisburg and Williamson County Emergency Management to assist with clean-up and supply distribution.
Four members with the AmeriCorps Red Cross AmeriCorps program are currently stationed in Cincinnati, OH to assist the American Red Cross with client intake, casework, and sheltering.
Last week, AmeriCorps members met with senior leaders from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the agency which oversees AmeriCorps programs. Kelly DeGraff, Senior Advisor for Disaster Services, and Idara Nickelson, Chief of Programs Operations, toured Branson and Kimberling City to survey national service efforts in response to the Leap Day tornadoes and spoke with stakeholders on additional opportunities for AmeriCorps members to help affected communities.
In the coming weeks, DeGraff will travel to Kentucky to survey the disaster response work of AmeriCorps programs and speak with those involved.
“The work being done by AmeriCorps in Missouri and others states speaks to the critical role that national service plays in disaster relief efforts,” said DeGraff. “Affected communities can count on AmeriCorps to get things done.”
CNCS, a federal agency, provides support, expertise, and trained volunteers to help communities prepare for, mitigate, respond, and recover from natural and man-made disasters. From forest fires and floods, to hurricanes and tornadoes, participants in CNCS programs have provided critical support to millions of Americans affected by disasters since 1994. For more information on national service disaster response, visit nationalservice.gov/disaster.