GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – As part of their severe weather preparedness month, relief and recovery groups in Marshall County met for a public workshop Tuesday.
Marshall County EMA director Anita McBurnett said she was a little disappointed at the small turnout of about 20 people, but said one of their objectives is to find ways to reach out to more people in the community to get them more involved in the process.
“It’s trying to coordinate and collaborate with those agencies and getting feedback from the participants in ways that we might be able to reach out more to those areas and agencies and groups that maybe we haven’t been able to touch in the past,” McBurnett said.
Dorothy Fitch said she would never have attended one of these meetings five years ago.
“If a disaster didn’t [directly] affect me or a family member, it didn’t affect me,” Fitch said.
That changed after tornadoes hit Albertville in 2010 and the entire state in 2011. She got involved with Marshall County’s Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
“I love the meetings like this where we can get people together to say what can we do to help. So many people feel like they aren’t qualified, when in reality everyone has skills they are good at. Everyone has something they can give. Most people just want to be asked before they get involved,” she said.
She said there is always a large number of volunteers who show up wanting to help after a disaster offering to help, which is good but can cause problems for volunteer coordinators.
“You get this feeling that you want to help and you’re there to help but there’s really no where to put you,” she said about people who ask what can be done in the aftermath.
“People are trying to put you somewhere because they want to use you, but if you’re not skilled in something or you’re not trained in something, they really can’t place you immediately. They’re having to find somewhere to please you when they really need to be focused on other things.”
She said what is best is having a plan in advance for what you will do as a volunteer.
“The same as your storm shelters, if you already know where they are you know where you’re going in that immediate response, it’s the same thing as volunteers,” Fitch said.
“You know where to go and you’re ready to do what you’re good at doing.”
You can contact VOAD through their website and join a response team or organization.
There will also be a similar meeting April 4 from 9 am to Noon at the Marshall County EMA offices in Guntersville, where the focus will be public assistance and individual assistance.
“we need people in the community to become more involved in helping ourselves in the recovery process and not depending on the federal government or the state government, but what we need to do immediately on a local level.”
“We need people in the community to become more involved in helping ourselves in the recovery process and not depending on the federal government or the state government, but what we need to do immediately on a local level to take care of those who have immediate needs after a disaster,” McBurnett said. “That’s on us.”