Scenes from the disastrous earthquake in Haiti have many in the United States clamoring to help the victims. Locally, those at The House of Carpenter on Wheeling Island and The Salvation Army in Bellaire stand at the ready should disaster strike.
The Salvation Army is known internationally for its unwavering willingness to help provide comfort for victims of countless disaster and emergency scenarios. Locally, the Salvation Army resources are overseen by Captain Louis Patrick. The Rev. Gary Beale oversees operations at The House of the Carpenter.
Both stated volunteers are the key to giving hope to those dealing with a disaster.
Preparing a flood bucket which contains items that can be used to clean up following a flood is the Rev. Gary Beale of The House of the Carpenter.
"One of the greatest skills a volunteer can bring to a relief effort is a willingness to be patient and flexible," said?Patrick.
The Salvation Army's planners consider those two traits to be of such importance they are a big part of emergency preparedness plans and even of the classes made available for local volunteers.
Both Beale and Patrick suggest those willing to volunteer for emergency response teams to contact local emergency response agencies to see how they can help.
"We are beginning to make a list of people in the area who have contacted us to say they will be available as a volunteer to help in an emergency or disaster response effort," said Beale. "This kind of volunteer resource is very valuable and can really help make a positive difference in helping to prevent a certain amount of damage - especially when it comes to flooding - simply by being available to help move items from lower levels of homes to higher levels."
Beale stressed sometimes good "volunteers" simply see a need in their community and help meet it by being good neighbors.
"The elderly are often in need of volunteer help from others, simply because they likely cannot do the physical work needed to move items out of the path of floodwaters," said Beale, noting following a flood many people also need assistance moving items back.
Patrick noted a disaster can take many forms.
"A disaster can be a fire destroying a person's home or a situation the magnitude of what we are seeing in?Haiti, but they all make people vulnerable and in need of a helping hand," said Patrick.
The Upper Ohio Valley is no stranger to emergency situations and local officials, while ready , willing and able to help when and if the time comes, suggest a little planning can go a long way when disaster strikes.
For the most part, preparedness begins at home.
"Family members need to talk to each other regularly about what to do if there is a certain type of emergency. Different situations bring different responses. Everyone in the family should know a common gathering point, helpful in the event of a fire or storm. Children, particularly, will get though an emergency better if they already know family members can be counted on to be already working to reconnect with them if they are separated by emergency conditions," said Beale, referencing a flood which occurred in September 2004 in the Ohio Valley while many children were at school and separated from their parents.
"It is also important that parents make sure their children know that even if there is a breakdown in direct communications, they will be working to connect with the child as soon as possible. That kind of knowledge can help all family members deal with emergency situations much more successfully."
Beale said planning is of the utmost importance.
"There is no question we will face more floods, more disasters and more emergencies," said Beale. "It is just a question of where, when and how severe. Among the most valuable things we can do to help mitigate the damage which can come with emergencies is to have a plan of what to do when certain emergencies happen or a disaster strikes."
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