NEWS: President Obama meets with United Way staff working with VOAD and disaster relief effort

President Obama

President Obama visited Memphis today and received briefings on our area’s struggle with flood and disaster

(Memphis, TN) Earlier today, President Barack Obama met with local emergency and disaster leaders who are coordinating efforts to respond to the current flooding situation in Memphis.

United Way of the Mid-South staff member Loretta Hurt, who serves as a lead coordinator for ESF-14 in the local Emergency Management Agency’s Basic Emergency Operation Plan (BEOP) is one of the local leaders who was asked to provide a briefing to the President.

Hurt serves as United Way’s staff for VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) and provided information about local volunteers and donations for local flood relief.

Nonprofits are a major part of local recovery
Other nonprofits are contributing to VOAD’s work with flood relief, including several United Way partner agencies such as the American Red Cross, LINC/2-1-1, the Salvation Army, Volunteer Mid-South, Search Dogs South and others.

VOAD brings resources (donated material and volunteers) to assist the Emergency Management Agency. ESF-14 was activated during the end of April and was involved in the initial mitigation efforts. It provided over 400 volunteers who filled more than 25,000 sandbags.

The EOC activated a call center, River Watch 2011, on May 1st. The call center operates around the clock. Members of the elite Shelby County Health Department Medical Reserve Corp have contributed over 360 hours of volunteer service in manning the call center and have responded to over 6,000 phone calls, emails and text messages.

Volunteers are making a difference
VOAD also provided volunteers to help staff the Shelter Assistance Center which also operates around the clock. Since activation, hundreds of spontaneous volunteers have had their activities coordinated, elevating more than a dozen to lead volunteer positions in light of their demonstrated leadership skills. The Salvation Army has fed a multitude of volunteers who have answered the call to service.

As the region recovers from this natural disaster, VOAD is recruiting corporate and community “mucking teams” to assist with cleanup and has opened a warehouse to receive donated goods for distribution (mostly water, sanitizers, and cleanup kits). These supplies will be distributed to flood victims.

Major corporations have joined our efforts and are assisting in the recovery phase by providing financial assistance and donated goods. These organizations include FedEx, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Cargill, Valero, and others.

VOAD partners are also assisting victims with implementing recovery plans once they’ve exhausted their available insurance and government recovery benefits.

“Community organizations, and our corporate partners are compassionate and committed to contributing to all phases of this current disaster. By adhering to the “four C’s” of VOAD —collaboration, communication, cooperation, and coordination— we believe we can and will help our community and our citizens recover,” Hurt said.

Update: After the meeting, Hurt shared some personal feelings and reactions to meeting with the Commander-in-Chief with our friends at WREG News Channel 3. You can see that interview here.

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