Volunteers Play Key Role in Recovery: Help with Unmet Needs

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ORLANDO, Fla. – In a disaster’s wake, federal, state and local emergency agencies immediately marshal resources to help survivors. Volunteer and non-profit organizations also support affected communities in response and recovery efforts.

The state of Florida designates Volunteer Florida as the lead agency coordinating volunteers and non-governmental organizations. Volunteer Florida is a member of Florida Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (FLVOAD), a state association of voluntary and non-profit groups that provides critical help to survivors and their communities in all phases of a disaster. It plays an important role in assisting families with disaster-caused unmet needs and, at times, helps repair or rebuild homes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency‘s (FEMA) Voluntary Agency Liaisons (VALs) coordinate information and resources with Volunteer Florida and the Florida VOAD to support the 4 Cs – coordination, collaboration, cooperation and communication – to work more effectively.

Volunteers also assist in a community’s long-term recovery. When survivors have exhausted all resources, voluntary groups help uncover and provide further resources, including local services to assist them with their unmet needs.

Long Term Recovery Organizations

Voluntary agencies initially attend to survivors’ immediate needs by providing emergency shelters, food and other kinds of aid. After these immediate needs have been met and life-threatening conditions have been addressed, long-term recovery activities begin through local Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs).

As of Dec. 12, there are 23 LTRGs. As locally-based organizations, their mission is to assist hurricane survivors with disaster-caused unmet needs. Voluntary Agency Liaisons are in

constant contact with LTGRs to ensure they are up-to-date with federal and state agencies’ programs and non-governmental resources.

Volunteers from the state of Florida and across the country are lending their time and talent to the recovery efforts of Hurricane Irma. Currently, volunteer agencies, faith-based groups, local service clubs and individual volunteers are helping with cleanup and rebuilding from Jacksonville to the Keys.

Together, these volunteers are assisting in resolving unmet needs and clearing the way toward recovery.

One such group, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), has helped in response and recovery activities. It cleaned debris in over 100 homes in Collier, Duval and Flagler counties. Twelve of their counselors, trained in emotional and spiritual care, have been deployed throughout Florida. In early January 2018, IOCC will begin rebuilding homes in St. Johns County.

How You Can Help and Get Help

The following services and programs offer survivor assistance and volunteer opportunities:

Florida 211

  • Floridians seeking information about disaster-related services and unmet needs may call Florida 211, a statewide referral service. Call 211 to find resources in your community, such as food, childcare, and crisis counseling.

Volunteering and Donations

  • To donate or volunteer in Florida, go to www.volunteerflorida.org or call 800-FL-Help-1.
  • For those who wish to help, cash donations offer voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources and brings money into the local economy to help businesses recover.
  • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD) at www.nvoad.org
  • FloridaDisasterFund.org to support individuals.
  • FEMA.govVolunteerIrmaDisasterRelief. FloridaDeptHealthResources.

For more information on Hurricane Irma and Florida recovery, visit www.FEMA.gov/IrmaFL, @FEMARegion4 Twitter account, or the Florida Division of Emergency Management website.


FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462- 7585.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

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