Like many states, New Hampshire experiences a variety of disasters that impact the lives of its
residents, including winter storms, floods, and tornadoes. To help stregthen residents' preparedness and increase critical response capabilities, Volunteer New Hampshire, a nonprofit organization, has been partnering with various state agencies, and local and national service organizations. Since 2004, Volunteer NH has grown its network of those organizations that can use trained volunteers to meet the needs of those affected by a disastrous event.
Volunteer NH has a seat at the NH state emergency operations center because of our coordination efforts, and ability to reach trained volunteers quickly,” said Domenic DiNatale, director of emergency services and the state coordinator for NH Citizen Corps. “We also have a key role in finding organizations to help provide individual assistance during times of disaster. It’s one big circle that includes coordination, collaboration, communication, and cooperation.”
"We want to ensure that everyone in New
Hampshire knows what's happening and
what to do in an emergency by sharing
resources and inspring others to prepare."
— Andrea Johnston, a programs officer with
Volunteer New Hampshire
Since 2005, Volunteer NH and New Hampshire Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) members have provided individual assistance to residents in New Hampshire following the destruction from any local or statewide disaster. Volunteers remove debris and trees that have fallen, repair roofs, and remove mud from basements following flooding. Volunteers also offer support for long-term recovery efforts that include everything from helping distribute supplies to supporting human and animal shelter operations. “When any sort of emergency occurs in the state,” said Andrea Johnston, a programs officer with Volunteer NH, “we are called in to assist with the response and immediately reach out to our family of partners.”
Making Communities Disaster Ready
Over the years, Volunteer NH has actively worked with Community Emergency Response Team programs to help respond to disasters in the state. In addition to their response efforts, Volunteer NH regularly provides other services including training and education for volunteers and nonprofit organizations in the state. On September 25, 2015, Volunteer NH launched Ready Corps, a new initiative to train and involve AmeriCorps members in disaster response efforts. Volunteer NH registered this initiative in collaboration with America’s PrepareAthon!
To prepare Ready Corps members to assist in an emergency, Volunteer NH provides basic disaster response training, including sheltering operations and responding to individual assistance requests.
“We’ve partnered with the American Red Cross to provide its training on sheltering fundamentals,” said Johnston. Once trained, each member is also registered in the Red Cross national volunteer database and can provide shelter support anywhere in the country. Currently, AmeriCorps members and Volunteer NH staff are eligible to participate in Ready Corps, but Volunteer NH plans to expand the program.
It has begun training AmeriCorps VISTA members to join, and it hopes to bring Senior Corps into the program as well. “Right now, we’re hoping to have more than 150 AmeriCorps members ready to assist their local communities when any sort of disaster occurs,” said Johnston. “We are looking forward to actively engaging our 3,000 National Service members in New Hampshire to join the Ready Corps as well.”
To learn more or get involved with Volunteer NH or Ready Corps, visit www.volunteernh.org, and click on the Disaster Services tab.