Disaster Response

 

About

Since 1994, AmeriCorps St. Louis' Emergency Response Team has assisted communities in disaster relief in over 30 states and more than 65 of Missouri's 105 counties. In our local Missouri community, we've responded to incidents such as state-wide flooding, ice storms, and tornadoes, including the 2011 Joplin tornado. On a national level, we've responded to incidents such as the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City, Hurricane Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy in 2012. 

In 2017 alone, our Emergency Response Team has been involved in seven different disaster deployments, including the wildfires in Tennessee, the tornadoes in Perryville, Kansas City, and Ottawa/Naplate, the floods in Missouri, Hurricane Irma in Florida, and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. 

What we do

AmeriCorps St. Louis' Emergency Response Team consists of a highly skilled and thoroughly trained group of diverse individuals from all over the country. We utilize trainings from the National Incident Management System and best practices from Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters so that each member is fully equipped and ready to deploy to impacted communities on a moment's notice. 

In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, members of the Emergency Response Team focus on the critical unmet needs of the affected community, particularly those of vulnerable populations. Throughout a deployment, members could be involved in any of the following: individual assistance, public assistance, volunteer management, donations management, community outreach, and capacity building.

 Year 17 member, Jess Keaton, assists with demolition after the 2011 Joplin, MO tornado (Photo by Scott Julian) 

Year 17 member, Jess Keaton, assists with demolition after the 2011 Joplin, MO tornado (Photo by Scott Julian) 

Individual Assistance

Members offer individual assistance by providing structural repairs after disaster, including emergency roof tarping & home repair, mold remediation, muck & gut of affected properties, debris clean-up, and demolition. After the tornado struck down in Moore, Oklahoma in 2013, AmeriCorps St. Louis assisted in helping 6,729 property owners throughout the recovery process.

 Emergency Response Team members assist in hazard tree removal after a tornado touched down in St. Louis, Missouri in April, 2011

Emergency Response Team members assist in hazard tree removal after a tornado touched down in St. Louis, Missouri in April, 2011

Public Assistance

Emergency Response Team Members provide public assistance by facilitating hazard tree removal, debris removal, safety briefings prior to field work, dispatch operations, and donated equipment and heavy machinery tracking. When a flood disaster is imminent, Members assist communities in flood fighting techniques by sandbagging and sump-pumping. Prior to the Mississippi River flooding in Clarksville, Missouri, in 2013, AmeriCorps St. Louis, with the help from volunteers, constructed sandbag walls around the town, averting floodwaters from the residences of 442 individuals. 

 Year 21 member, Mike Rood, provides a safety briefing for volunteers during the Coal City, Illinois, 2015 tornado response (Photo by Kelley Hower, Year 21)

Year 21 member, Mike Rood, provides a safety briefing for volunteers during the Coal City, Illinois, 2015 tornado response (Photo by Kelley Hower, Year 21)

Volunteer Management

Members provide volunteer management by organizing and operating Volunteer Reception Centers and utilizing systems to track volunteers, including location and hours served, activity performed, and equipment used. During the 2011 Joplin tornado, AmeriCorps St. Louis mobilized 63,620 volunteers and tracked over 633,465 hours of volunteer service. 

 Year 24 Members, Leela Hospach and Matt Farrington, assist AmeriCorps, FEMACorps, and other local volunteer organizations in repackaging life sustaining supplies to Points of Distribution in remote and isolated areas of Puerto Rico in response to Hurricane Maria, 2017

Year 24 Members, Leela Hospach and Matt Farrington, assist AmeriCorps, FEMACorps, and other local volunteer organizations in repackaging life sustaining supplies to Points of Distribution in remote and isolated areas of Puerto Rico in response to Hurricane Maria, 2017

Donations Management

Emergency Response Team Members facilitate donations management by managing warehouses, being a Point of Distribution Tracking and Coordination site, and developing methods for tracking goods that are donated. AmeriCorps St. Louis assisted in sorting and managing 2,000,000 pounds of donations throughout three warehouses in Sevier County, Tennessee, after the 2016 wildfires.

 Year 21-22 member, John Purdue, assists with other AmeriCorps and NCCC members in follow-up calls to survivors on additional services needed after the 2015 winter flooding in Missouri

Year 21-22 member, John Purdue, assists with other AmeriCorps and NCCC members in follow-up calls to survivors on additional services needed after the 2015 winter flooding in Missouri

Community Outreach

AmeriCorps St. Louis supports community outreach by canvassing in affected communities, supporting 2-1-1, running call centers for survivors, providing homeowner and property owner intake and tracking, facilitating case work and Multi Agency Resource Center (MARC) support, and providing staffing for logistics. During the 2017 spring flooding in Missouri, AmeriCorps St. Louis traveled throughout the state to staff registration and homeowner intake tables at 18 MARCs over a period of 10 days. 

 During Year 19, Will Burks coordinates with the National Guard and other volunteer agencies on the removal of flood waters from behind flood protection barriers in response to the flooding in Clarksville, MO, 2015 

During Year 19, Will Burks coordinates with the National Guard and other volunteer agencies on the removal of flood waters from behind flood protection barriers in response to the flooding in Clarksville, MO, 2015 

Capacity Building

Members assist in capacity building by acting as support and liaisons for emergency management agencies, including Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Community Organizations Active in Disaster, and Long Term Recovery Committees. Other organizations include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, United Way, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, faith-based organizations, as well as other state and local committees. 

On Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, our AmeriCorps Team managed over 3,500 volunteers to recover disaster victims’ personal belongings from the wreckage of their homes. Between myself and one other AmeriCorps member we oversaw over 150 people working on four properties. We had a great deal of responsibility because we had to ensure the safety of so many untrained volunteers working in an unstable and destroyed environment, as well as make sure that the volunteers were able to recover homeowners’ treasured possessions. I remember one homewoner returning to what was once her home and being brought to tears by the sight of over 40 strangers helping her bring some order to her life and recovering the photographs and material things which make up so many of the memories of her life
— Will M., AmeriCorps St. Louis, in response to the Joplin, MO tornado recovery, 2011

Want to learn more?

Access to Disaster Help and Resources - Disaster Assistance.gov

Plan Ahead for Disaster - Ready.gov

Missouri Department of Public Safety - Missouri State Emergency Management Agency

St. Louis City Emergency Management Agency - St. Louis Emergency Management

Be prepared for flash flood safety by checking out this video by Missouri StormAware! For more information go to https://stormaware.mo.gov