PREPPING FOR STORM SEASON: Locals asked to train as storm volunteers

Published 11:47 am Saturday, May 18, 2019

With the beginning of hurricane season just two weeks away, the Covington County Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) program still needs more volunteers and churches to step up to help citizens during storms.

VOAD’s goal is to train, and to staff them once called upon by Emergency Management Agency. The efforts and abilities of this volunteer group are meant to supplement and support groups in the area that are already doing disaster relief.

“We are still looking for volunteers,” EMA director Susan Harris said. “We are also looking for churches to step up and let us use their facilities.”

Throughout the state, EMAs are trying to find safer places for people that are living in mobile homes, Harris said.

“Some of the churches are wanting to open up before the storm, which ultimately is their call,” Harris said. “We are just trying to find safer places for people to go. Like, if you were living in a mobile home, then a safer place would be a local church. It is not a storm shelter, but it is definitely safer than a mobile home, which is why we are trying to get churches to open up before a storm and especially after a storm. Just so people who are impacted will have a place to go after the storm.”

The local VOAD only asks volunteers to go through one small training session so they will be prepared for the unknown.

“We have one small training that is like a couple of hours,” Harris said. “Then with the churches and their volunteers they don’t have to have training. If they are good at preparing food then we will use them for that. I mean, they are prepared to cook for large numbers, so we are using those resources within the shelter process. Mostly in the training we try to prepare people for things that they don’t normally think about.”

Harris said that it is always important to be proactive and step up before a storm hits.

“I have always said that people rush to help after the fact,” Harris said. “But it is more important to have people prepared and ready to go before the storm. That way, we can already have their contact information and get them ready to go before it is too late.”

There are no requirements for a church to become a shelter or for a person to become a volunteer.

“We can use whatever a church is willing to let us use,” Harris said. “Even if VOAD can’t use it for a shelter, we could use it through EMA as a volunteer resource center. For volunteers, all you need is the willingness to help others.”

The CCVOAD holds monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of every month.

For more information on how you can become a volunteer or how a church can become a shelter, contact 334-300-7502, or call the EMA at 334-428-2670. People can also email