Spotlight on Helping Others
September 22, 2007
AUGUSTA, MAINE – September is “National Preparedness Month”. Disaster can strike anywhere. We all feel the urge to help when we see or hear stories or see images of those who have lost everything. Or the disaster might be in your own home town. Here are some way you can help others to “weather the storm.”
Here at Home:
- Get involved
- Participate in emergency response in your community by joining – or starting – a Community Emergency Response Team.
- Join the group that is working on an emergency plan for your town, your workplace, or your children’s school.
When there’s an emergency going on in your community, helping others can be as simple as making sure your neighbor is okay. Neighbors can work together to make things better for each other and the entire community. If you have to go to a shelter, perhaps you can help look after children, or sit and talk with someone who is especially nervous about the situation. Helping others during an emergency is a great way to feel better yourself.
When there’s a disaster somewhere else:
- Support the disaster relief fund of an organization that’s working to help victims.
- Cash donations are almost always the best way to help. Needs at a disaster site change by the hour. Cash allows the relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, as it is needed. They also purchase from companies in and around the disaster area, which helps the local economy. Giving money doesn’t always feel like you are giving immediate help, but you are. Satisfy the urge to “do something” by having a community yard sale, or bake sale, or benefit concert, and donate the proceeds to a relief organization.
- Support relief organizations year-round to help them be ready to respond quickly.
- Visit Maine Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (Maine VOAD) at http://www.mainevoad.org to learn about all the volunteer agencies active in disasters, and think of them as you make your annual decisions about charitable giving.
- Remember local organizations.
- Food kitchens and local volunteer groups help people every day through emergencies large and small. If you regularly give used clothing and household items to a charity, those items help here, but may also become part of the resources that help disaster victims. Many of Maine’s food pantries are also part of a national network that moves resources to affected states during a disaster.
- Affiliate with a relief organization so that you can serve in a disaster area when needed.
- When you sign on as a volunteer, it is understood that you can’t go everywhere, every time. But when the time is right, your training and credentials will be in place and you can be sent immediately where help is needed. Check out Volunteer Maine at http://www.volunteermaine.org for information about becoming a disaster volunteer. If you are a volunteer with a local agency that has a national relief counterpart, your training and experience can help here at home, and you are ready to be deployed to other states as well.
- If you are credentialed responder, look into the ways to assist other states through mutual aid.
- Emergency responders and officials may be deployed to other states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an interstate mutual aid agreement that allows resources and people to be easily assigned to other states. If you are credentialed and experienced in your response specialty, and your department agrees that they can spare you, notify your County Emergency Management Director that you would be available to be deployed. EMAC teams are sent only as requested by the affected state. Other legitimate mutual aid agreements might also be activated in a disaster. It is extremely important that all responders work through these systems, instead of self-deploying.
For more information on family and community preparedness, safety and volunteer opportunities, visit:
Maine Prepares: http://www.maineprepares.com