Update on How to Help West Virginia

Update on How to Help West Virginia
Dear Partners and Friends,
Over the last several days many of us, across the country, have been both heartbroken and deeply concerned about the devastation in West Virginia.
We’ve seen the flooding render death and destruction on this great state. And we’ve seen the power of Mother Nature as she continues to bring additional rain. Too many lives were lost, homes destroyed, and towns were completely washed away. Many areas remain underwater and homes that were not destroyed remain without power.
But West Virginia is resilient and communities across the U.S. are opening their hearts.  Many have given generously to support the ongoing efforts.  I would encourage anybody who wants to lend a hand to go to www.volunteerwv.org and wvvoad.communityos.org to learn more and find out how you can be helpful.
It is critically important that individuals not self-deploy. Please register to volunteer at West Virginia Volunteer.  A financial contribution to a recognized disaster relief organization is the most effective donation to make. When the public supports these voluntary organizations with financial contributions, it helps ensure a steady flow of important services to the people in need after a disaster. If you need help in determining who to give to, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website has a list of major organizations or you can  contact your FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaison for guidance.
Heather Foster, Executive Director of Volunteer West Virginia, in coordination with West Virginia VOAD and the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has been a leading force in responding to this crisis. There are over 60 local AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers assisting with establishing emergency shelters, call center support, operating cooling centers, setting up volunteer reception centers and managing donated goods – among other tasks. Additionally, two teams from AmeriCorps NCCC Pacific Region have been dispatched to assist the Red Cross in the hardest hit areas.
As the water begins to recede we anticipate the deployment of additional AmeriCorps-Disaster Response Team (A-DRT) members, VISTA members and Senior Corps volunteers to begin the lengthy process of recovery to included mucking and gutting homes.
Above all, I am confident that West Virginia will recover and rebuild because of the strength and spirit of West Virginians.  Over the last few days, they’ve opened up their homes to one another.  They’ve shared scarce resources of food and water. They’ve organized shelters, provided free medical care, and looked out for their most vulnerable citizens.  When hard times hit, we have to help each other and in West Virginia, this is clearly understood.
I encourage individuals and organizations that want to help to visit wvvoad.communityos.org and www.volunteerwv.org for details on volunteer opportunities.
In Service,
Kelly DeGraff
Senior Advisor for Disaster Services

Additional details for those interested in assisting:
Communities across West Virginia are experiencing severe losses related to flooding. Please stay safe and continue to take care of each other. If you’d like to help, financial donations are best at this time. As the situation stabilizes over the next few days, other supplies and volunteers will be needed. Here are some ways you can help now.
  • INDIVIDUAL VOLUNTEERS: Volunteers should not self-deploy, please stay safe until contacted by a volunteer coordinator. Please register to volunteer at www.volunteerwv.org.  If you are already volunteering at a local shelter or response operation but are not already registered with another disaster response agency (like the Red Cross), please register using the link on our website and comments with your current volunteer location.
  • GROUP VOLUNTEERS: For agencies with groups of volunteers ready to help (including church groups and student organizations), please register your team on the website at www.volunteerwv.org. You only need to register your team once.
  • AGENCIES WHO NEED ADDITIONAL VOLUNTEER SUPPORT: If your agency needs additional volunteer support to staff shelters, conduct damage assessments or is anticipating other volunteer needs, please contact Gina.L.Namay@wv.gov or 304-558-0111 to complete a volunteer request.
  • FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Financial donations are the best way to support the effort at this time. West Virginia has a statewide disaster relief fund managed in cooperation with a network of West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WVVOAD) and the United Methodist Church. You can donate to this fund at https://wvvoad.communityos.org/cms/home.
Financial donations can be mailed to:
WV Disaster Relief Fund
PO Box 3811
Charleston, WV 25338