VOAD may be coming to Bath and Highland Counties
Bath County’s Local Emergency Planning Committee is looking to create a VOAD in the area. VOAD is Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster and it’s made up of groups, churches and individuals that are willing to help in the community following a major disaster.
Harold King is co-chairman of the Bath County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
“We have a lot of folks who are more than willing to help other people in times of need,” says King. “The key thing a VOAD does is put a structure to it, so that we can communicate with each other, we share information, that we know what each other is doing. And we also don’t have duplication of effort.”
Groups and individuals in Bath and Highland Counties are being sought to form a VOAD for the area. VOAD members can help in many ways during disasters, including clearing roads, manning kitchens, handing out supplies and checking on the elderly or those with special medical needs. VOAD also coordinates the efforts of any volunteers who come to help following a disaster. The work the VOAD does frees up emergency services personnel, who can be stretched pretty far during a disaster and who welcome the extra help.
“Many times the county’s sheriff’s deputies will go and check on people we know, like diabetics or those on oxygen, but that may prevent them from answering an emergency call,” says King. “It could very well be that family members or church groups or other folks are looking after their own and we’re just not aware of what’s going on. And the VOAD puts structure to it. And it may be as simple as keep doing what you’re doing, but once you’ve done it, give us a call and let us know it’s taken care of. And we can put a tick mark next to it and go on about our business.”
Any individual or group in Bath or Highland Counties that wants to learn more about VOAD can attend a meeting on Tuesday, August 26th at 7pm at the Bolar Ruritan Club. The feasibility of forming an area VOAD will be discussed and members of the Southwest Virginia VOAD will be there to talk about their work.
“We are gauging interest in Bath County and in Highland County to see do we want to put a formal structure to our volunteer activities,” says King. “Let’s say there’s a pastor or a church group and they are looking after their members and they’ve done a good job, everyone’s accounted for. How do they tell an incident commander for a major disaster that all bases are covered in their neck of the woods? Who do they report to? If there are folks out with chainsaws clearing roads, how do they report that they’re on a particular route and what their progress is so that we know that’s covered and we don’t have to send VDOT workers to that area. It’s simply adding structured communication on top of the things we’re already doing.”
For more information about the VOAD meeting on August 26th contact Harold King at 540-925-2275.