Transitioning From Response To Recovery

During the initial response to the Missouri Winter Flooding, AmeriCorps St. Louis - working in conjunction with other AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams (A-DRT) from across the United States - acted as a statewide “clearinghouse” for homeowner intakes in addition to their role in direct service performing muck and guts and debris removal on affected homes. The large A-DRT team has since disbanded, and recovery from the flooding is now beginning to move into what is known as the “long term recovery” phase. Many voluntary organizations have left the disaster area, and the formation of community Long Term Recovery (LTR) Committees and Groups has begun. These LTRC/Gs aim to continue the long road to normalcy for many Missouri families. Often as local community organizations active in disaster (COADs) begin to transition into LTR Committees and Groups, survivors of the disaster must wait while the group forms, writes its bylaws, and identifies key resources and players still active in the affected area. These are of course important steps to take to ensure the proper functioning of the LTR group as a whole. However, many families and individuals simply cannot wait for help to come. That’s where the most recent ERT deployment comes into play.

The recent ERT team of six deployed across Missouri worked hard to identify high-needs and at-risk survivors in order to pair them with organizations and resources able to begin emergency repairs during the interim phase of recovery. In addition to identifying homeowners in need, the ERT identified key resources still active in Missouri and assisted LTR groups in the area with their startup process.

Several ERT members also facilitated in the start up of a pilot project called the Bridge to Recovery Coalition – a collaborative effort between AmeriCorps St. Louis and several key partners. The aim of the Coalition is to provide simple repairs (like drywall replacement, insulation installation, and floor work) to affected homeowners so that they can shelter in place until their local Long Term Recovery group can address their needs.  The Coalition – made possible by a generous grant from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy – targets at-risk populations with critical unmet needs and emphasizes guiding the survivor towards self-reliance in a holistic way. The Coalition is currently underway thanks to the tireless work of several ERT members and the work of partnering agencies.

Update written by Brittany Merriman

Erik Steciak - A Life in Service

Erik Steciak, Year 14 ERT, was killed by a utility vehicle while on duty as a paramedic in Bel Air, Maryland.  His family and friends are in our hearts.  He will always be a part of the AmeriCorps St. Louis family.  Two of his year mates shared their memories of Erik as a way to pay tribute to his life and commitment to service. 1930312_539367486176_1956_n


"In general I saw Erik as someone who pretty well had his life together as far as knowing what he was going to do with it. It seemed like his service with the ERT was just a brief pause away from what he really wanted to do, being a firefighter. Erik really identified and was passionate about serving people through the fire service.
   What I remember most about Erik is the time we spent responding to the flooding of the Mississippi river in 2008, in Clarksville, MO together. Clarksville was from my perspective the most intense disaster response that we went on in year 14. We spent the first several days working 20 hours a day and doing all that we could to help protect the town from the rising flood waters. I think that Erik was really energized by providing service that had direct and immediate consequences. Erik was leading a team of volunteers that was building a sandbag wall close to the downtown area. I remember us having to almost force Erik to take some time and rest once reinforcements arrived. He was committed to giving the people of that town his best effort and in that he was a role model for the rest of us. I gained a lot of respect for Erik on that response, and though we were not close friends I felt a strong bond with him after Clarksville. I'm sad to hear that the world has lost Erik's energy and passion for helping others and I'm grateful that I got to spend the time that I did with him." - Dan Ulrich, Years 14-16
"I had the honor of serving with AmeriCorps St. Louis as an Emergency Response Team member for two years, working on staff at AmeriCorps St. Louis, and I currently work for another AmeriCorps program in town as its Program Coordinator.  I’ve met countless big hearts over this time, but few more passionate, more unrelenting than Erik Steciak’s.  He was an unwavering vigil, an engine of service that refused to quit—even when asked, repeatedly.  True, Erik’s passion for service could wear on you when you yourself were already weary, buried beneath mountains of stress and frustration, but in the very next moment, you could be inspired by Erik’s boundless energy that was always committed to getting the job done.One of my favorite memories of Erik happened when ERT was deployed on disaster.  Nearly seven years later I can’t really remember what it was or where we were—maybe it was during the ice storm in Columbus, Kansas or the tornado that leveled Neosho, Missouri—but I remember Erik holding about seventeen nails in his mouth as he nailed down a blue tarp.  It was dusk approaching night, and it was time to pack it in for the night.  Our team lead called for us to finish tarping the damaged roof we had climbed onto when Erik decided that the tarp just needed a few more nails to hold it down.  I remember our team lead yelling at Erik to come down because it was too dark and me and everyone else piled into back seat of our pick-up echoing it back just so we could get to dinner faster.  I remember being annoyed by the time Erik finally slid down the ladder, but I think that was just Erik to a tee.  He was going to make sure that tarp stayed on that family’s roof no matter what.  He didn’t care how many others thought that it didn’t matter or that he should hurry up; he was committed to serving, even if it meant an over-commitment to it.  That's how I knew Erik to live his life.I’m thankful that I had the chance to get to know Erik, and I’m proud that I got to serve beside him on a team that binds us together forever." - Jeremy Brok


For information about his viewing and funeral services, visit the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company's page.  


ERT Deploys to New York City for Hurricane Sandy Response


AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team Deploys to Hurricane Ravaged New York City

ST. LOUIS, MO - The AmeriCorps St. Louis (ACSTL) Emergency Response Team (ERT) will deploy to New York City to support the State of New York in assessing the welfare of residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.


The team will depart by vehicle from their Soulard headquarters, located at 1315 Ann Ave., St. Louis, MO 63104, this afternoon and travel to New York City where they will assist the State in assessing initial damages incurred by those living in affected areas.  The Washington Conservation Corps, who are driving across the country to provide aid, will join them later in the week.


In addition to assisting with the needs arising from Hurricane Sandy, ACSTL team members are also currently serving in three Louisiana Parishes to address challenges generated by Hurricane Isaac last August.


Recently within the state, the team responded to the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, registering and coordinating over 60,000 volunteers, which contributed a cost savings to the city of 17.7 million dollars.  Today, six ACSTL members continue to serve in Joplin to provide long-term support to the community. In recent years the team has also responded to the Good Friday tornado in St. Louis County and the Leap year tornadoes in Stone and Taney Counties. Team members also operate an emergency warming shelter in St. Louis on dangerously cold nights each winter.


Learn more at or (314) 772-9002


Support Our Mission Here


Within the state of Missouri disaster plan, AmeriCorps St. Louis is a National Service Organization who is responsible for volunteer mobilization in times of disaster.  ACSTL is a non-profit organization that has provided emergency response missions to over 30 states during the past 19 year and relies on donations to meet critical unmet needs in the areas of Disaster Response and Land Stewardship.


AmeriCorps St. Louis Travels to Joplin to Reflect on a Year of Coordinated Disaster Relief Service


  AmeriCorps St. Louis Travels to Joplin to Reflect on a Year of Coordinated Disaster Relief Service

JOPLIN, Missouri –AmeriCorps St. Louis (ACSTL) initial responders, volunteer coordinators and the new Joplin Recovery Team will come together in Joplin this week to reflect upon the past year of recovery and the immense volunteerism that came as a result of the tornado.

Over the past 12 months, the ACSTL volunteer reception center has registered and engaged over 75,000 volunteers who contributed over 520,000 hours of service.  The volunteer hours, along with the value of donated heavy equipment, have offset over 17.8 million dollars of Joplin’s and Missouri’s share of the disaster costs.

On Monday, May 21st, the ACSTL Emergency Response Team will host other national service Members who joined them at different times throughout the year to celebrate of Joplin’s recovery efforts.  They will also participate in the Walk of Unity on Tuesday, May 22nd  and receive acknowledgement for their work done in Joplin by Washington, D.C. representatives from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).


AmeriCorps St. Louis is a nonprofit organization that strengthens communities by addressing critical unmet needs in the areas of urban education, disaster relief, environmental conservation, and volunteer mobilization.  For more information, visit

AmeriCorps St. Louis (Incorporated as Partnership For Youth – a 501c3 organization) - 1315 Ann Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63104 Phone (314) 772-9002  Fax (314) 772-7109 -  Supported by the Corporation for National & Community Service  EOE/ADA