TO PERSONALLY VOLUNTEER IN THE DISASTER AREAS
The State of Texas and Florida is asking volunteers to not self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up to any of the communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey and Irma will create an additional burden for first responders.
The National VOAD has also noted the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.
To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear, and valid identification.
At this time, potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas or Florida and supporting survivors on the ground.
The National and Texas VOAD websites are offering links to those who wish to register to volunteer with community- and faith-based organizations working in the field.
Most importantly, please be patient. Although the need is great, and desire to help strong, it is important to avoid donating material goods or self-deploying to help until communities are safe and public officials and disaster relief organizations have had an opportunity to assess the damage and identify what the specific unmet needs are.
Volunteer generosity helps impacted communities heal from the tragic consequences of disasters, but recovery lasts much longer than today. There will be volunteer needs for many months, and years, after the disaster, so sign up now: https://www.nvoad.org/current-disasters/werespond/
Tropical Storm Harvey and Irma is still dangerous, with the potential to impact additional areas of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. As the situation changes, needs may also change in these areas. Continue monitoring traditional and social media channels to learn more.