Disaster response team forming

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When disaster strikes, nonprofits and community groups are often there to help pick up the pieces.

“We’re trying to coordinate a response ahead of time,” Sharlene McCoy, an assistant for the Somerset County Department of Emergency Services explains.

This is for flooding events, fires, and winter storms.  The soon to-be Somerset County Disaster Response Group will includes nonprofits and faith-based organizations.

Typically these groups assist families and communities after a disaster happens.

“The Red Cross helps individual family homes, so it doesn’t really require a larger response, but this will help during a flooding event, winter storm event, anything that would require larger response,” McCoy says.

She adds that they are targeting groups like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, churches, and other social organizations.  It’s been something that McCoy has seen in other counties and states, and has wanted to do here for several years.

This Monday they will hold a meeting for interested groups.

“We have Roy Shipley from Fayette County coming and presenting how theirs works.  They have a disaster response group in Fayette County and with the recent flooding they had, he’s going to talk about how their group coordinated their efforts.”

Their main goal is to make cleaning up and supporting people more efficient.  For example, if drivers are stuck on the turnpike like last winter, they would now know ahead of time who has the capabilities to help them.

“We would say this church can provide 50 meals, this one can provide 100.  We would know who to call instead of it happening and we’re like okay who do we call?”

Groups interested in participating can go to the meeting on Monday at 7p.m.  It will be held at the Somerset Volunteer Fire Department’s social hall.

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