FEMA maintains strong relationships with many voluntary organizations under the umbrella of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD), of which the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a member. Together, we promote the National movement’s core principles — cooperation, communication, coordination, and collaboration — in order to build strong, resilient communities and help survivors impacted by disasters.
When Vincentians mobilize into action, they work with FEMA, state, local, tribal, territorial, and non-government, community and faith-based organizations in a united effort to assist disaster survivors in long-term recovery. FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaisons (VALs) serve as a critical a bridge between the Federal government and voluntary, faith-based, and community partners. VALs are a resource for these organizations, and support the work of the Vincentians and other partners by:
- Guiding disaster case managers as they navigate FEMA’s Individual Assistance Programs;
- Informing partners of FEMA activities and data — like Disaster Recovery Centers locations or the number of disaster assistance applications within impacted areas – to help partners concentrate efforts in specific communities;
- Conducting disaster readiness training and exercises to build partner capabilities; and
- Identifying and supporting efficient and innovative ways to help disaster survivors, like the Voluntary Agencies Leading and Organizing Repair (VALOR) Program piloted in Puerto Rico.
At any man-made or natural disaster, you’ll find FEMA VALs based out of the Joint Field Office and working in the community, supporting long-term recovery organizations, connecting with community and faith-based organizations, and meeting with community leaders.
FEMA VALs are pleased to serve with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in meeting its mission. As we continue to work together from last year’s unprecedented hurricane season, we encourage everyone to take time to prepare yourself and your family for future disaster events. Some ways you can do that for you and your loved ones, include:
- Develop your disaster plan and share it with family and friends.
- Know your disaster costs.
- Consider the costs associated with disasters such as insurance deductibles and evacuation costs, and plan for those costs.
- Anticipate initial out-of-pocket disaster expenses for lodging, food, gas, and more.
- Collect and secure personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records will give you peace of mind and, in the event of an emergency, will ensure that you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay.
- Download FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit for more information.
- Visit mymoney.gov to learn how to save, invest, and get insured for your financial future.
- Take the “You Are The Help Before Help Arrives” training.
- Encourage your parish and community to be ready to care for themselves, and provide relief for others, in case of disasters.
For more information, check out Ready.gov.
About the Author
Alfred “AC” Claud is a Voluntary Agency Liaison with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), based in Washington, D.C. Prior to FEMA, AC worked in Florida to build the capacity of community, faith-based, and local government agencies and organizations and strengthening disaster preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery across the state. An AmeriCorps VISTA alum, AC is a Jesuit-educated graduate of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama.