Unsolicited Volunteers Hamper Disaster Recovery


Monetary assistance is the best way to help victims of the Oklahoma tornado. That’s the advice of officials with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters are advising Hoosiers about how to help Oklahoma citizens in need. The destruction in Oklahoma City has left communities in need of hands-on help and donations. Volunteers play a vital part in disaster recovery. However, Indiana VOAD President Chris Gilbert says, “Well-meaning individuals who simply show up to help without coordinating with disaster management personnel can complicate or even hinder response and recovery operations already underway. Become part of a coordinated effort.”

Following some simple guidelines can make all the difference in the revitalizing the areas hit by a disaster.

  • Do not just show up to the disaster area. Reach out and contact a volunteer organization.
  • Inform volunteer organizations of any specific skills or services that you can offer.
  • Get trained with a group.
  • Make sure to think through things you will need. Do not assume that resources are available at the site. These should include: appropriate clothing, food and water, shelter/a place to stay.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Erickson says, “In disaster recovery, it is best to donate money to a legitimate relief agency that you know, trust and is working in the area. Sending materials and food to areas hit by a disaster can cause problems with sorting, storage and distribution. It is best to send money rather than goods because it is more flexible. It allows volunteer organizations to more quickly obtain the supplies needed to address the most urgent needs.”