VOAD working toward shelters, volunteers needed

Published 10:37 am Friday, November 17, 2017

After a busy 2017 hurricane season that included a storm putting evacuees on the doorstep of Covington County, local leaders have realized the need for local shelters.

In attempt to fix the problem, Covington County EMA director, Susan Harris, followed the example of other counties’ Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster groups, and began working to organize a local group. The second organizational meeting was held Thursday night.

“There is a serious need for these shelters,” Harris said.

“Anyone can join the VOAD group,” Harris said, “It’s going to be a difficult start and I hope to get anyone involved,”

The VOAD group is responsible for identifying potential shelters within the area, making sure they meet certain criteria for housing, and supplying food for the shelter.

“There’s a lot to go into this, we have to find buildings that are willing to be a shelter, we have to have a board of directors,” Harris said.

A large part of the process is training, she said.

VOAD members must know how to run a shelter, and open up a shelter at a moment’s notice.

“The hardest part will be getting shelters selected or built, and after that it should be a breeze,” Harris said.

VOAD members will mobilize when shelters need to be opened .

“We also have to dictate where the donation drop off point will be for the county, decide where a shelter will be in communities like Florala,” Harris said.

“People shouldn’t have to drive to Andalusia for a shelter,” Harris said.

For anyone interested in participating, there are no qualifications.

“Just join and be willing to work,” Harris said.

The next VOAD meeting will be Dec. 14, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. at the Covington Baptist Association.

For more information, contact the EMA at 334-428-2670.