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Local Disaster Team Makes Efficient Debut

MOUNTAIN AREA – The local chapter affiliate of Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) team is up and running and participated in their first disasters beginning on June 18, during the Sky Fire in Oakhurst and the Corrine Fire in North Fork, aiding the evacuees in two shelter locations in Oakhurst.

The Calvin Crest camp counselors came out with only the clothes on their backs,” VOAD Chair Laura Norman reports. “The VOAD jumped to action and acquired new undergarments for them in addition to many hygiene items they requested.”

The VOAD is designed to work in conjunction with the Red Cross, which sets up the shelters and arranges for food for the evacuees while the shelter is open.

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD), established in 1970, is a coalition of the major national voluntary organizations in the United States that have made disaster-related work a priority. National VOAD member agencies provide skilled direct services along the continuum from disaster prevention and preparation to response, recovery, and mitigation.

The National VOAD is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership-based organization that operates with the intention of building resiliency in communities nationwide, according to organizers.

“It serves as the forum where knowledge and resources are shared throughout the disaster cycle — from preparation through response, recovery and mitigation — to help disaster survivors and their communities.”

During the two recent fires in Oakhurst and North Fork, many local businesses rallied to the VOAD requests and provided toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouth wash, bar soap, shampoo, razors, pillows, blankets, and loaned towels.

All items that were not used by the evacuees have been boxed and stored locally so they can be brought out at a moment’s notice the next time shelters are opened.

Since then, the local VOAD team has met and elected an Executive Board made up of community members from many different market segments. The new Board is in the process of creating by-laws and will soon be electing officers. Once these goals are accomplished they will join the NorCal VOAD that covers the 48 most northern of California’s 58 counties.

The Executive Board consists of Mike Vaughn representing Animal Rescue, Andrew Pence for Finance, Joseph Frank from Ham Radio, Kathy Thomas of Realtors, Jessica Steele with Retail, Julie Fullmer over Visitors, and Chairman Laura Norman with Utilities.

The VOAD also consists of community leaders in the areas of Chambers of Commerce, the Faith community, Schools/Education, and Service Clubs.

Very soon a mirror organization will be established in Mariposa which will allow leveraging of the many resources that we have locally and not be dependent on aid coming up from the San
Joaquin Valley.

Locals who would like to volunteer to help in disasters are encouraged to call the numbers established for the VOAD: (559) 683-4911 or (209) 966-5911.

Sky Fire photo by Alicia Arce

Source: Wikipedia

Source: National VOAD

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