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Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster Group Ready To Assist Victims of Emergencies

When wildfires are finally put out, or flood waters recede, those who have suffered losses begin the arduous journey of putting their lives back together.

Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster Santa Barbara County members are there to help disaster victims after calamity strikes.

        |  Emergency Preparedness 2017  |  Complete Series Index  |

The organization’s 196 members come from local fire departments and offices of emergency management within the county, along with nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups and local businesses.

“Our goal is to remain in a state of readiness both in the ability to be resilient ourselves and our organizations during a disaster, as well as able to provide assistance to the community with our various services,” VOAD-SBC chairwoman Kathleen Riel told Noozhawk.

“To accomplish this, we meet regularly to maintain those connections, provide business continuity planning training to our members and practice what happens when we activate.”

VOAD-SBC’s objective in collaborating is to have an organized approach to recovery services to maximize the resources for the greatest number of people, Riel said.

She added that VOAD-SBC is prepared to operate at the request of local emergency management officials for any disaster.

“We are connected to those who need assistance through the coordination of our services with the American Red Cross and other partners rather than being contacted individually,” she said.

VOAD-SBC services are free to those it assists.

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is a VOAD-SBC member and the organization’s fiscal agent.

It had been responsible for leading response efforts for disasters affecting the county since 2007, said Paul Wilkins, the Foodbank’s director of operations.

“We manage the ongoing disaster education and public outreach that pertains to the supply of food and water during a disaster,” he said.

“The Foodbank led large-scale volunteer activities to package food and water that was distributed to individuals affected by emergencies.”

During the 2008 Tea Fire, which destroyed more than 200 structures in the Montecito and Santa Barbara foothills, and the 2009 Jesusita Fire burned more than 80 homes above Santa Barbara, Foodbank volunteers were ready to help victims.

“The entire food inventory at the Foodbank warehouses at the time of these fires was directed to support American Red Cross efforts and to benefit families staying at the UC Santa Barbara-designated shelter for evacuees affected by these fires,” Wilkins said.

He said the Foodbank, as a VOAD-SBC member, works with local organizations to coordinate and support all activities effectively and efficiently in the event of a disaster.

“We all plan in advance and implement our individual strengths and expertise to create a strong and well-prepared local relief and recovery resource that can jump into action immediately when such a need arises to serve all affected individuals countywide,” Wilkins said.

Anyone displaced because of a local disaster will be served, he said.

“It was Foodbank’s long-term dedication to serve all Santa Barbara County individuals affected by hardship, to ensure that food and water is available to everyone in need during these times,” Wilkins said.

Organizations and businesses that want to maximize their disaster readiness and resilience or contribute to a coordinated recovery response are encouraged to contact VOAD-SBC for membership.

        |  Emergency Preparedness 2017  |  Complete Series Index  |

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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