You can help your community during a disaster


The Bath County Local Emergency Planning Committee hopes to create a new program that will enable community members to help their friends and neighbors during a disaster.  Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, or VOAD, can be an essential part of a county’s coordinated emergency and disaster response.

Harold King is the Chairman of Bath County’s Local Emergency Planning Committee.

“If they want to just augment our deputies, for example, doing wellness checks during disasters,” says King.  “If that’s the only thing they sign up for, we’re still way ahead.  If they want to provide chainsaw crews to clear roads, every little thing they want to sign up for, we’ll integrate that into our overall emergency plan.  And then when disaster strikes, we’ll have our go to people.”

VOAD helps with specific tasks during disasters, so emergency services personnel can be freed up to do other things.  Organization of a VOAD group is done ahead of time and some training may be required for members.  A local VOAD group would be a part of a regional network of VOAD’s across Virginia.

“They can be church groups, they can be community service groups, they could be an association of good buddy hunters who want to just help out in times of disasters,” says King.  “But it’s an organization that’s structured.  It interacts with the emergency operations center.  It’s another resource for a county or region that’s been hit with disaster.  And it makes sure that we are operated in an integrated fashion.  That all bases are covered and there are no gaps.  And the structure of the group and who runs it will be determined by the members of the group.   We want to have a kick off meeting sometime around the end of August.  We are looking for folks to participate and I’ve asked other members of the LEPC anyone who knows of an organization or a person who would like to volunteer and help can get in touch with me.”

Harley Gardner is Highland County’s Emergency Manager.

“Well Highland County’s interested in being involved regionally with Bath, because our resources in both counties are quite limited,” says Gardner.  “And I think by us gleaning from within the community groups and organizations, whether faith based or just community organizations, we can utilize the folks that are willing to help and it will help everybody else in the community.  So if we have something, maybe our group would want to do something a little different than what Bath does, and the situation or the incident doesn’t involve our community then we can come and help Bath and vice versa.”

If you would like more information about the VOAD kick off meeting to be held in August, contact Harold King via email at   Or you can talk with a member of local emergency services.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

Current Weather