How do I volunteer for hurricane cleanup?
August 28, 2005 10:11 AM   Subscribe

How do I volunteer for hurricane cleanup?

I am a U.S. Forest Service certified sawyer with equipment and have read that Katrina could blow down a significant amount of trees. If it's as bad as predicted, I'd like to help with the cleanup, but who should I call? I'd like to arrange this in advance of landfall. I've contacted the Red Cross in Alexandria with mixed results.
posted by F Mackenzie to Society & Culture (12 answers total)
If the zip in your profile is correct, this is your local Red Cross chapter. Perhaps call them? I'm kind of surprised that when you contacted the Red Cross earlier, you got "mixed" results; they're usually the go-to people for this kind of thing. (When a tornado hit my neighborhood, the Red Cross was the single most effective organization for this sort of thing.)

And just a shot in the dark: the local Boy Scout council may be a good place to call; they sometimes do disaster relief.
posted by Vidiot at 11:24 AM on August 28, 2005

From the news reports, releif agencies and local officials are still trying to organize the exodus and services during the storm. The guy in charge of the Louisiana emergency command center was just on the news and he said that they hadn't even started to think about planning for the aftermath... they had scenarios that they'd played through, but they weren't currently even considering what they were going to be doing in two or three days and wouldn't until the storm was over.

(Disturbingly enough, Fox News is providing the best coverage so far of the hurricaine. One of the newscasters is a bit alarmist, but they've been doing the best job overall.)
posted by SpecialK at 11:30 AM on August 28, 2005

If you want to swing by my house to volunteer for cleanup on Tuesday, I'll spot you a beer or 18.
posted by kuperman at 11:37 AM on August 28, 2005

(just kidding)

But ditto what vidiot said; also, you could try contacting Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development - longshot, though, I know.
posted by kuperman at 11:40 AM on August 28, 2005

OK, news update: Contact FEMA. They're gathering in Fort Worth TX, among other staging areas.
posted by SpecialK at 11:55 AM on August 28, 2005

Yep, FEMA is who you should contact. One of my neighbors works for them and gets called to go out in the field every time a hurricane, massive tornado, or earthquake happens.
posted by bedhead at 1:01 PM on August 28, 2005

Response by poster: I contacted FEMA as suggested, and they told me to call back in 48 hours once damage assessment is complete. I had originally called my local Red Cross, but they are closed for business today. My comment about "mixed results" with the Red Cross in Alexandria is due to being passed around to several different people before they finally took my phone number and said they'd call back when they needed me.

I realize the main thrust is to get people evacuated and get first-response teams prepared. I'll sit tight and see if/when/where I'm needed.

If you are aware of any non-FEMA, non-Red Cross group that needs a sawyer, please continue to post.
posted by F Mackenzie at 4:01 PM on August 28, 2005

Why not just show up and work? People are going to refuse your service because you don't have an appointment? Just be sure to bring everything with you.
posted by Ken McE at 4:10 PM on August 28, 2005

I think that yes, they may refuse you if you just show up since cleanup is supposed to be an organized process. Any disaster area is already chaos, and creating order is a priority.
posted by scazza at 4:21 PM on August 28, 2005

Um. I think the best reason to not just show up and work is in case you get injured. Both for your sake and the owner of the property you are working on. Nobody needs a branch removed so bad that its worth getting sued over.
posted by phearlez at 9:31 AM on August 29, 2005

Hey, everyone: Here's a list of phone #'s of organizations that my local media outlets are saying are looking for volunteers.

Adventist Community Services


Catholic Charities, USA

703 549-1390

Christian Disaster Response

941-956-5183 or 941-551-9554

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee


Church World Service


Convoy of Hope


Lutheran Disaster Response


Mennonite Disaster Service


Nazarene Disaster Response


Presbyterian Disaster Assistance


Salvation Army

1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)

Southern Baptist Convention -- Disaster Relief

1-800-462-8657, ext. 6440

United Methodist Committee on Relief

posted by SpecialK at 7:23 PM on August 29, 2005

I did some work during last year's Florida hurricanes, though it was mostly accounting and financial stuff. The Red Cross and other relief agencies provided helpt to people, but the cities and counties basically had to take care of cleaning up whatever mess was on the ground in their areas. They can't really do this with the resources they have, so they contract the work out to disaster recovery companies. In the simplest of terms, those guys clean it up, the city gets billed and usually reimbursed by the state or FEMA. Just to be clear: this isn't volunteering. There's plenty of money that moves around doing this.

Disaster recovery companies are like a general contractor for cleanups - they bring in people with equipment and trucks, people to load trucks, people to staff dump sites, etc. And yes, there was a lot of trees that fell over. Any work usually didn't start until days after the hurricane, either. If you want to do it, these disaster recovery companies might be a good place to start: a list of companies that bid to do debris removal for one local gov't from last year.
posted by milkrate at 11:24 AM on August 30, 2005

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