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Have you Ever 'Distance Volunteered' During a Disaster or Crisis?

  • 1.  Have you Ever 'Distance Volunteered' During a Disaster or Crisis?

    Posted 02-20-2021 15:41
    Edited by Andy Sternberg 02-21-2021 14:41
    It's been overwhelming to read the headlines from Texas this week. Millions were left without power, heat, and clean water for several days as severe winter storms and a deep freeze led to blackouts. And the recovery is just beginning.

    Disaster brings out the best in us as volunteers, neighbors, and human beings. It's inspiring to see local communities in Texas spring to action, and there are also distance opportunities for volunteers to help from anywhere.

    Texas Freeze Blackout volunteer

    There's no need to feel helpless after watching news coverage, or hearing from friends and colleagues struggling with crises in other parts of the world. In today's super-connected world, there are always ways to "distance volunteer" even when physically distanced from a disaster or crisis.

    Crowdsourced resource lists and crisis efforts have become both critical and prevalent resources for disaster response and recovery. For example, Crowdsource Rescue created this interactive map showing hundreds of requests for help around Houston, Dallas, Austin and other parts of Texas, and connects volunteers who want to help. This spreadsheet has multiple tabs with crowdsourced resources and information from everything to free water and food in and around Austin, to locations of warming centers, grocery store availability and hours, and offers & requests for help. There are signup sheets to help distribute water, and for those in need, a form to request hotel room placement and supplies. Local newspapers and government websites often list the latest information, such as "Here's where to get water in Houston." 

    Check out Texas Monthly's list of local organizations in Texas in urgent need of either skills-based or financial support. In some cases, it's possible to volunteer to make welfare calls for organized disaster relief phone banks from other states or countries.

    Anyone can help by sharing & verifying resources and opportunities on social media. And we can always learn and take inspiration from how other communities respond in times of crisis.

    What volunteer disaster response efforts have inspired or motivated you? Have you participated in distance volunteer opportunities?

    Andy Sternberg