Tornado Relief organization update and Minutes

Dear Friends,
A lot of work has been done recently to better organize the utilization of volunteers and donations in disaster relief. We understand that some of you offered to volunteer and donate and weren’t gotten back to quickly. Your help will still be needed in long term recovery from the tornadoes.

After the tornadoes, roads were closed with National Guard troops to keep order while power and infrastructure were put back in place. Affected cities and towns were overly stressed and having difficulty utilizing local volunteers, never mind those from outer areas. Several Massachusetts VOAD organizations were already set up to help with their own members and volunteers and did so.

Usually, we wouldn’t post the Minutes of our monthly meetings, but the June 8th meeting Minutes are below as they outline the organization that has recently been put in place while giving you behind the scenes data you likely didn’t get from your news services.

To volunteer or donate, you would still call 211 and to donate toward the long term disaster relief efforts, you could donate to the new and official state Disaster Recovery website (hosted by United Way) at
www.unitedwaytri-county.org/disaster, call 888-811-3291 or donate to any Massachusetts VOAD member organization you wish.

Please read the information below as it relates to the future safety of the Massachusetts during times of disaster as well as the current relief efforts.
Best,
Kevin Hall (Secretary), Chris Farrand (Chair), Luis Matnog (Vice-Chair)

MAVOAD Minutes
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
1:30-3:30 PM
MEMA Bunker, 400 Worcester Road (Rte 9), Framingham

Minutes

I. Welcome and Introductions
With 26 in the room and four more on the conference phone, this took longer than usual which is a good thing.

II. Working Group Updates and Results of Recruitment Drive
A. Community Preparedness and Outreach
1.Working Group Leaders: Luis Matnog
a. Kevin Hall (Church of Scientology), Luis Matnog (Red Cross) and Arlene Magoon (FEMA) discussed a plan of having Chris Farrand (Salvation Army) put together a one-page sheet on how and why to create COADs (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) and sending it to all the local Massachusetts Emergency Management Directors in order to have them organizing their local businesses and churches, etc. to help if disaster hits. It was also discussed how we could further promote COADs through the www.massvoad.org website and other means and could keep the groups organized by suggesting other activities like entertainment, neighborhood watches, etc. that would keep them active while no disasters were occurring. Kevin also invited those attending to become MA VOAD members if they were not already. After the meeting, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) applied for MA VOAD membership. A vote to approved them will occur next meeting.

2.Working Group Leaders: Kevin Hall, Arlene Magoon
Dana Hardtman (AmeriCorps/VISTA) and John McCaul (Able Restoration both offered to help create a VOAD video with its music and special effects, etc. in August. Kevin, Chris and Luis are going to meet to put the script together first. This will be a video, just under ½ hour for cable tv. It will discuss VOAD, the need for creation of VOADs and preparation for disaster.

III. Able Restoration, Inc. (John McCaul) was voted in as the first Associate Member of Massachusetts VOAD. After the meeting, a press release they can use for the media and a certificate were emailed to them by Kevin.

IV. Long Term Recovery Groups Updates on Finalizing Home Repairs.
Larry Rosenberg of the Northern Long Term Recovery group and Paula Farrales of the Southern LTRG gave updates. Larry hopes to finish all flood damage from last year by the end of the month. He had 180 cases and all but 6 are closed. Paula had 276 cases with 9 more to handle, including three new ones. She wanted to thank Self Help, Inc., Able Restoration, the Brockton Stop & Shop and Walgreens and the Providence Canteen for their great help.

V. Luis said that it is important for all MA VOAD members to take the FEMA IS250 (Independent Study 250) disaster relief training course in order to have a much greater understanding of disaster relief activities and what we, as a group, should be doing. It’s a free course on the FEMA site that takes about 2 hours to do.

VI. Arlene got with the United Way of Tri-County and set up a Massachusetts VOAD account within the United Way. This is a long term recovery account and done with the consent of Governor Deval Patrick to make this the official long term recovery account. Arlene also got approval on how the funds will be appropriated and how MA VOAD members will be part of the process. Doug Sparks (United Methodist) brought up how there’s already a standard format to decide who would be in need of the money in the account and Arlene agreed that it was true.

VII. A Massachusetts organizational chart with job descriptions for specific roles was voted in and is on the “About” section of www.massvoad.org. This lays out the role of Massachusetts VOAD so members can more easily work to expand the organization without going through various committees and approval processes. The chart is in alignment with the committees of National VOAD and it can also be changed by vote at meetings if and whenever necessary in the future. Kevin asked that people review the organizational chart and job descriptions and offer to take on areas they feel interested and qualified in expanding.

VIII. Ben Hiltunen (MEMA) spoke on an upcoming MAVOAD tabletop exercise/timeline drill and also gave a tour of the MEMA Emergency Support Function (ESF) area that was activiated at the time, to anyone interested after the meeting at 3:30pm. Several went to see how MEMA coordinates its disaster response function.

IX. FEMA Updates. Katie Halladay (FEMA) said that the MA VOAD Resource Book is done and will be printed soon. There is also an electronic version to will go up on line and be linked to the MA VOAD website. This can be changed to add new future resources while the book won’t be updated for quite a while.

X. Other Business:
This was the longest section of the meeting, the final ½ hour wherein organizations briefed on their disaster relief actions since the tornadoes hit Western, MA. Coordination activities within different groups were also worked out as follows:

Bill Driscoll (All Hands) has agreed to organize an utilize the volunteers who offered to help through Mass 211, www.massvoad.org and the MEMA ESF 15 desk.

Red Cross Springfield (Joy Grahn) – Two shelters 363 in Mass. Mutual Civic Center and 90 at the Big E. Red Cross (as of June 8th) could use volunteers.

Bill Ames (Lutheran Social Services) said they were helping 67 in shelters including family members of one of the deceased from the storms. He said he has needs for housing, vehicles and windows (all damage by tornadoes) and clothes.

Wil Leslie (Salvation Army) said that they can handle means and clothing for victims and that they sit in daily meetings with the Springfield Mayor regarding what’s needed.

www.aidmatrixnetwork.org/FEMA was set up as an organized place where people can offer unsolicited donations and MA VOAD members can (and should) go onto to collect needed donations. The organizations can also post what they need from other MA VOAD organizations to make it easier to coordinate with each other. Gary Levit of MA 211 asked about clicking off when donations or requests for help are finished and Arlene said that it was part of the process.

Katie said that there’s now a one-stop Massachusetts tornado information site at www.mass.gov/stormrecovery .

Bill Driscoll said he was coordinating on helping people with their homes while they were in the shelters.

Victor Ying (Tzu Chi) said that his organization (www.us.tzuchi.org/usa) wants help in identifying families in need regarding tornado relief. They often give out $1,000 checks to the victims to help them out.

Arlene Magoon said that 235 houses were destroyed although the count should go up as more assessment of damage is done. Information is being put together by Massachusetts with a proposal from MEMA. Massachusetts has to be declared a national disaster due to the tornadoes in order to receive the funding. It’s based mainly on the amount of damage calculated although there are some other factors. She also said there’s a need now for temporary housing while homes are being repaired.

Bill of LSS said that some people are living in cars while others are displaced and living with families or friends. This is beyond the numbers in the shelters.

Joe Raviele (Greater Boston Food Bank) coordinated with Joy Grahn to get food to them and the CT food bank.

Shannon Walajtys (IFAW) and Rebecca Evanoff (Cert/Dart) reported that the animal shelters and veterinarians in Western, MA did a good job on sheltering pets until they could be reunited with their families.

Andre Gorenyi (Salvation Army) reported that the Salvation Army helped about 20,000 peole with food, water, clothes and spiritual counseling. This included going door to door to see what help was needed. The Red Cross reported that the Salvation Army was bringing racks of clothes to the shelters of displaced families.

Gary Lever (MA 211) said more data needs to get out on these good works that are being done.

Bill Driscoll wants to get with agencies in organizing efforts and volunteer help.

Bruce James (Southern Baptists) said they set up in Brimfield with 5 chain saw (that were cutting up fallen trees to help citizens at their homes with clean up), three damage assessment teams and 5 spiritual counseling teams. They have about 40 volunteers and feel that volunteer help through All Hands would help a lot in clearing debris.

Kevin said the ESF 15 (volunteer desk) was mainly handled by Paula Farrales (Red Cross), himself, two other Church of Scientology volunteers and a volunteer from Boston Cares. The ESF 18 desk was manned a little by Kevin and Paula but mostly by NEDTRIX members who raised a lot of money (including a $10,000 Boston Celtics donation and a pledge to match funds by fans). Tarps to cover roofs, water, and plywood were among the first donations to be gathered in through the ESF 15 and 18 desks. Among volunteers offering help were a couple of good sized construction companies with heavy equipment and an architect who wants to help design new housing.

Lora Grady of Corporation for National and Community Service said they are going to set up at Western Community College and will work on debris removal among other things.

Boston Cares said that they can do shelter care and Self Help, Inc. can help with housing people and getting them needed household appliances.

Commonwealth React said they would like to work with All Hands to keep communications in between groups.

Arlene inquired and found out that the individual organizations aren’t currently being overwhelmed with unsolicited donations that they don’t know how to warehouse.

The next MA VOAD meeting will be Wednesday, July 13th at the MEMA Bunker in Framingham. Please RSVP by July 11th to mavoad@gmail.com. to let us know if you’ll be attending.

Sincerely,

Chris Farrand (Chair), Luis Matnog (Vice-Chair) & Kevin Hall (Secretary

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