The tornados that ripped through Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia last week were the deadliest in 37 years, causing nearly 350 deaths and billions in damages. And while much of this inconceivable destruction is concentrated in the southern U.S., the powerful images of the devastated communities have made a great and lasting impression on the rest of America.
As the federal agency for volunteering and service, the Corporation for National and Community Service is working closely with FEMA, state emergency officials, state service commissions, and local nonprofit organizations to assess the situation and determine the most effective role for national service participants in response to these disasters.
CNCS programs often provide critical support to Americans affected by disasters and since 1994, have helped survivors of forest fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, terror attacks, and oil spills.
In response to the most recent natural disasters across the Southern and Midwestern U.S., AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members are helping communities respond in the wake of the devastating tornadoes and flooding.
Here are just a few of the areas where national service has responded:
- Alabama: Several AmeriCorps NCCC members are currently in Tuscaloosa conducting outreach and a full AmeriCorps NCCC team has been dispatched to assist CitiIMPACT with debris removal and supply distribution. Additional teams are on standby to help the residents of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, some of the hardest hit areas in the Alabama tornadoes.
- Kentucky: AmeriCorps members in Kentucky serving with the American Red Cross Louisville Chapter, the Homeland Security Corps, and the Senior Connections AmeriCorps Program are providing vital services to those affected by flooding throughout the state, including preparing shelters and leading Community Emergency Response Teams to support first responders in emergency response.
- Oklahoma: RSVP volunteers in Oklahoma are providing assistance to the residents of Tushka, where an EF-3 tornado hit. The RSVP volunteers have helped families relocate, cleared debris, prepared and delivered meals, and provided transportation to seniors with critical medical appointments. Additionally, two AmeriCorps National Preparedness and Response Corps members have been dispatched to Oklahoma to assist in disaster recovery efforts.
- Mississippi: An AmeriCorps NCCC team was on the ground in Clinton, Mississippi within 24 hours after a tornado struck to assist the Salvation Army with food preparation and distribution to first responders and evacuation shelters. An additional NCCC team is working the City of Vicksburg to notify residents about pending flooding and assessing the number of residents in each home to assist first responders. Other teams are working with NECHAMA in Monroe County and Catholic Charities of Jackson.
- Missouri: AmeriCorps VISTAs in Poplar Bluff are helping with evacuation efforts, setting up a shelter for displaced residents affected by severe flooding in Southeast Missouri. AmeriCorps St. Louis Safety Corps is working closely with the Missouri State Emergency Management Corps to implement response operations in the region, clearing debris and assisting residents, an effort further supported by two additional AmeriCorps NCCC teams. And courtesy of Southwest Airlines, yet another team has been dispatched from the Washington State Conservation Corps to conduct debris removal.
- North Dakota: More than 1,000 RSVP participants have organized and registered volunteers for sandbagging efforts in North Dakota. On March 1, over a million sandbags have been prepared in Fargo. AmeriCorps programs with the YMCA and Youth Works in Fargo put 70 AmeriCorps members to work, providing local assistance to affected residents by sandbagging, collection food and water donation, and setting up shelters.
- North Carolina: An AmeriCorps NCCC team has been dispatched to Bertie County to help with cleanup efforts, food donations and distribution, and assistance to first responders.
- Ohio: RSVP volunteers in Athens and Meigs Counties have acted swiftly in the face of potential flooding risks, monitoring river levels and flood threats and surveying the impact of the tornado damage.
- Tennessee: An AmeriCorps NCCC team from the American Red Cross of Tennessee has been deployed to work in Chattanooga.
- Virginia: More than 210 RSVP volunteers in Pulaski, Virginia, are organizing supply drives for clothing and person hygiene kits and overseeing donation management to ensure efficient distribution of food and clothing. Six of the RSVP volunteers are assisting the American Red Cross Command Center in the recovery efforts.
- Wisconsin: An AmeriCorps NCCC team has been deployed to Adams County to assist in debris removal and clean-up efforts as a result of a tornado that moved through the area.
The recent tornadoes and severe storms have left many in need. Victims and survivors in eligible counties can register for assistance in one of three ways:
- Online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/
- On a web enabled mobile device at http://m.fema.gov/
- By calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY)