In northern Illinois alone at this time we are working on long term recovery in 5 separate disasters. One disaster alone—an apartment complex fire left 86 families homeless as the buildings were condemned. That means that in the 1 disaster there were 300 people homeless. People from the USA, Mexico, Poland, even Russia. The good news is that we are not working alone in this long term disaster relief which can last for 2 years…or more.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a member of a number of COADS and VOADS across the nation. These groups are volunteer organizations active in disaster—hence VOAD. Currently there are 6 disaster recovery efforts in Northern Illinois alone. Without the collaboration of groups like SVdP, Catholic Charities, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Southern Baptist Men and many other groups, recovery would be impossible.
The Northeast Illinois COAD has a working plan on both immediate and long term recovery. Each group sends a non-binding MOU or memorandum of understanding which states what they can assist with. When the local emergency manager calls to let us know that our assistance is needed in a disaster, we are ready to respond. But we are only ready to respond when that plan is in place. In other words, collaboration and planning are needed before the disaster strikes. Look to a future blog or ask us what constitutes the plan.
North Central Region
Joe Butkovich is the President of the Joliet Diocese Council and the Chair for Disaster Recovery for the North Central Region for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He has been active in many disasters. He is also a secondary teacher of English, a Boy Scout leader, catechist, Eucharistic Minister, lector, and a trustee for the Illinois State Court of the Catholic Order of Foresters. He is Past President of the Illinois Fraternal Congress and a member of Windy City Professional Speakers. He resides in Oakbrook Terrace with his wife Pat. He also has a son, Paul, who is doing research at the University of Chicago for his doctorate in chemistry.