Sheila King McFerran
Sheila @ Volunteerhsv.org
• In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, HandsOn Greater
Huntsville coordinated a massive volunteer effort to
provide evacuees with temporary housing at
shelters with the transition to apartments and
• 5,000 evacuees relocated to Huntsville, families
lost everything and many families were separated.
• Alabama Disaster Aid Soars to $41 million; Nearly
48,000 apply to FEMA;
• Multiple Evacuation Centers were opened
Response Activities in 2 Weeks
• Two Days after Katrina’s landfall, HandsOn
Huntsville began mobilizing to accept volunteers.
• Realized quickly that if HOGH didn’t take the
lead on the relief efforts, it would never get done
- too many agencies lean on the “red tape” issue
• Established a FAQ for evacuees for assistance
on HOGH website and local media.
• Distributed Fact Sheet on Top 10 needs to be
done first for evacuees.
Response Activities in 2 Weeks - Continued
• Distributed daily PRESS RELEASE on current
situation and statistics e.g. how you can help, food
drives, Civic Groups drive, Business Volunteer Council
• Established and distributed to websites and media a
log to include Need, Agency Name, Services, Address
and contact info.
• Established and distributed to websites and media
necessary forms for FEMA registration, housing,
volunteering etc. to provide logistics and accountability
for FEMA reporting.
Activities 3 – 6 Weeks
• Coordinated Fresh Start Job Fair at local arena to
provide PT and FT employment for Evacuees.
Provided lunch and FEMA assistance as well.
Collaborated with local media to publicize and
• Coordinated Mental Health Fair with lunch and
• Identified Pet Friendly Hotels and provided media
listing for evacuees
• Distributed FEMA Statewide Referral Listing of
agencies and services
Response 6 – 12 weeks
• We are here when you need us most short and
long term – promotion tool for evacuees
• Established Translation services to the large
Vietnamese and Hispanic community through
HandsOn Volunteer Language Bank
• Primary link between FBO’s, non-profits, NGO’s
• Established and implemented VOAD
• Coordinated multiple Mission Trips for volunteers in
collaboration with the FBO’s
• MITIGATE disaster – It is not if, but when it
will happen to our neighborhood and
• Establish VOAD and MATRIX of key
• Meet at least monthly or bimonthly with
membership to provide ongoing relationship
• EMA plan – Read it and if HandsOn affiliate
be in it
Lessons Learned - Continued
• Training, Training, Training. OFFER VRC to
Civic Groups and offer “to go box” so they can
be part of the solution.
• Flexibility - KEY TO SUCCESS – nothing is as it
seems in a disaster
• Get face to face with FBO’s beyond community
as they often provide additional equipment,
financial, skills needed in disaster response e.g.
NVOAD membership nationwide
EXPERIENCE HAS DRIVEN
• MOU with all agencies that are part of VOAD.
Don’t wait until a disaster to find out who doesn’t
play well in the sandbox e.g. identify R & R.
• Organize volunteers pre-disaster – establish job
descriptions for VRC and provide necessary
forms. E.G. 1)photo id, age limit, fill out sign in
sheet, issue wristband to identify as registered. 2)
short orientation on policies and procedures of
volunteer duty. Review safety etc 3)volunteers go
Experience Has Driven - Continued
• area where they await deployment orders.
Volunteers escort groups to site to perform task.
• Pre-incident training – e.g. NIMS compliant
• Partnership with local businesses to identify
support and volunteers
• Communicate - daily 1pm calls with state office
for agency report VOAD.
• COOP for Non-Profits
• HOGH/EMA MOU
• VOAD SOPS
• Forms and Materials on request
• Contact: Sheila McFerran 256-539-7797 (work)
• or 256-653-1104 (cell)
• www.McFerranConsulting.Com – provides training on
COOP, Volunteer Management, Disaster Mitigation.
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