Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Disaster Response Efforts In West Virginia Update: How Can You Help?

In late June, many areas in the southern part of West Virginia were hit with tremendous flooding. Homes were swept away. Family members were lost or injured. The waters were indiscriminate in sweeping through towns and bringing rapid destruction and damage to thousands of homes. And as the waters subsided, the people of our state began doing what we always do, rolling up our sleeves and helping one another out. People were working together to ship cleaning supplies and toiletries to those hard hit areas.
One of the best volunteer organizations that I have discovered when it comes to disaster response, and one which I would recommend to anyone looking to deploy, is Team Rubicon. The leadership of Team Rubicon has been trained in crisis and disaster response while serving in the military, and they bring all of that training and leadership into every disaster to which they deploy volunteers. One of the most challenging parts of disaster response for those who want to support is coordinating efforts. They require all volunteers to complete some online training modules before they deploy in an effort to ensure that all volunteers are fully equipped to make their punches count. I fully recommend signing up as a volunteer not just for the response that is needed now, but so you are equipped and prepared to deploy the next time an unexpected disaster strikes. Jamie and I also created a fundraising page with Team Rubicon to support their efforts. Will you consider donatingJamie and I support Team Rubicon because we believe in the leadership, we are impressed by the staff, and we think they have a very coordinated and regimented training and disaster response program that gets veterans and civilians together to live out some of the best qualities of citizenship and service.

There's still lots of work to be done, and more and more people are launching initiatives to support. WVU Alum Ken Kendrick contributed matching toward raising funds for WVU Extension. Brad Paisley donated toward a Go Fund Me page to encourage others around the country to pledge their support. Jennifer Garner launched a campaign with Omaze to raise money through t-shirt sales for Save The Children's efforts to help children in those communities hardest hit. Jim Justice opened the Greenbrier resort to families in need. All over our state, people have rushed out to purchase supplies and make donations of various types in response. 

I have a few friends who have traveled down to support friends and family members directly, and ALL of them have come back stating that one of the greatest needs presently is simply manpower, and will be for the foreseeable future. Our state needs people to volunteer their time to respond to the cleanup needs. Universally, organizations are discouraging people from deploying on their own, but there are lots of groups out there to serve with. If you can, mobilize with a group that is already organized, if you are unable, then support efforts financially to help equip others to get out there. It is some dusty, dirty, muddy, mucky work, and your contribution, at whatever capacity will be appreciated.

Whatever you can do to help, do it! If you have time and skills that can help with the response in southern West Virginia, deploy with a reputable group and serve. If you are not available to help directly, or you can’t donate goods like those listed on the United Way website above, donate to an organization you know does great work! I am incredibly proud of the way people in our state have rallied to support these efforts, and I know that my fellow West Virginians will always make the best out of a difficult situation. We are a resilient community, a community that supports one another, and one that holds firmly to a commitment to service.

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