After transitioning out of my coordinating role in Monson, I began reaching out to others who had filled the role of local volunteer organizer post-disaster.
The story is the same across the country: the resources are there, the need is real, but lack of organization makes it difficult for aid to be matched with the appropriate need.
After the Monson tornado, Red Cross vans full of supplies sat full on the sides of roads, massive stockpiles of goods built up at each of the community churches, and people streamed into the First Church looking for assistance. The rag-tag team of Tornado Volunteers became the interface between federal and state aid, and local need.
Speaking with a FEMA liason about a week after the storm, I pitched the idea of a pre-made website that could be rolled out for local organizers immediately after a disaster. One with a volunteer sign-up page, and a way for each of the aid organizations to post what they had available.
I remember saying, this should exist. He agreed, and said that sadly it did not.
In August, Morgan, myself and Alvin Liang, along with team members Chris Kuryak, George Clark and John Hess, got together to brainstorm solutions. No, organizing software and a pre-made disaster page did not exist. But we could make it. And launch it after a disaster, making sure you have the right tools when you need them.
photo credit: Red Cross. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2271/5797775049_1526a531db.jpg