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AmeriCorps Strengthens Recovery Efforts in West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Mar 6, 2017

Nearly 300 national service members assisted in recovery operations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, announced today that a team of AmeriCorps VISTA members will support long-term recovery efforts in affected communities. CNCS has dispatched more than 300 national service members to flood response and recovery operations in West Virginia since July.

In partnership with the State Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, Volunteer West Virginia, the Governor-appointed state service commission, and volunteer agency partners, AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers conducted damage assessments, supported eight Volunteer Reception Centers, removed debris, mucked and gutted more than 60 homes, sorted more than 125 tons of donations, and coordinated more than 1,050 volunteers.

These response operations were supported by the West Virginia Disaster Corps and AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams including: AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team, St. Bernard Project, Washington Conservation Corps, Great Appalachian Valley Conservation Corps, Hoopa Tribal Civilian Community Corps, and AmeriCorps NCCC, including FEMA Corps. AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams are CNCS’s elite, specialty-trained crews deployed at the request of local and federal emergency managers.

“AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members are part of this community and they stand shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors as the state continues the recovery process,” said Kelly DeGraff, senior advisor for disaster services at the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Working hand in hand with local partners, and inspired by the resilience of those affected, national service is committed to helping the people of West Virginia recover over the long haul.”

Currently, AmeriCorps VISTA members are assisting efforts to recover and rebuild. AmeriCorps members from the VISTA Collaborative at West Virginia University, in partnership with West Virginia VOAD, are creating case-management resources, as well as educating students and the community on how best to respond in a disaster situation. The AmeriCorps VISTA members are also developing a cell phone application to quickly and efficiently register and mobilize volunteers.

In addition, West Virginia Strong Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members, overseen by the state service commission, are working with local long-term recovery organizations to ensure that community volunteers continue to be integrated into recovery operations. They are securing donations, managing and connecting volunteers, and developing partnerships with local, state, and national organizations assisting in disasters.

“AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members support West Virginia communities to get things done, solving problems together,” said Heather Foster, executive director of Volunteer West Virginia. “After the floods, our national service programs responded with commitment and passion, dedicating time and resources to support the people of West Virginia.  National Service is a true locally owned public-private partnership and a source of hope and opportunity for all West Virginians.”

To get involved with volunteer recovery operations in West Virginia, visit WVflood.com/volunteer.

Following a disaster, national service acts as a force multiplier, providing key resources and significantly expanding the capacity of existing organizations on the ground. More than 40,000 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members were deployed in response to Hurricane Katrina. In the decade since, AmeriCorps teams have provided critical support after countless disasters, including the Flint, Mich. water emergency, 2016 Louisiana Flood, 2014 Southeast Michigan flood, Hurricane Sandy, tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Moore, Okla., the explosion in West, Texas, and the Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill.

As part of a week-long celebration honoring current AmeriCorps members and alumni, Mikel Herrington, acting chief of staff for CNCS, was in the area to witness the critical role of national service. Herrington, joined by Heather Foster, executive director of Volunteer West Virginia, served alongside AmeriCorps members who are supporting workforce development and disaster recovery and addressing the needs of families and individuals experiencing homelessness.

Currently, more than 3,200 West Virginia residents serve through AmeriCorps and Senior Corps in more than 870 locations across the state. They tutor and mentor children, support veterans and military families, provide health services, restore the environment, respond to disasters, increase economic opportunity, and recruit and manage volunteers. Since 1994, more than 12,000 West Virginians have served more than 18 million hours as AmeriCorps members, qualifying for education awards totaling more than $34.4 million.

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