National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster

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National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
MottoCommunication, Coordination, Collaboration, and Cooperation
HeadquartersWashington, DC
Region served

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD, or NVOAD) is a coalition of the major national voluntary organizations in the United States that have made disaster-related work a priority. National VOAD member agencies provide skilled direct services along the continuum from disaster prevention and preparation to response, recovery, and mitigation. NVOAD is the only nationwide organization of VOAD members in the United States.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

VOAD means one or coalition of Second Responder organizations in the United States. These groups voluntarily help survivors after a disaster. VOAD members cannot activate, direct, or supervise one another without a special agreement. The term "VOAD" is ambiguous, with at least five meanings:

  1. VOAD Movement
  2. VOAD Chapters
  3. Informal VOAD Networks
  4. VOAD Member Organizations
  5. Any Voluntary Organization(s) Active in a Disaster



National VOAD was founded in 1970 in response to the challenges many disaster organizations experienced following Hurricane Camille, which hit the Gulf Coast in August 1969.

Hurricane Camille Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in 1969

Hurricane Camille was the second most intense tropical cyclone on record to strike the United States. The most intense storm of the 1969 Atlantic hurricane season, Camille originated as a tropical depression on August 14, south of Cuba, from a long-tracked tropical wave. Located in a favorable environment for strengthening, the storm quickly intensified into a Category 2 hurricane before striking the western part of Cuba on August 15. Emerging into the Gulf of Mexico, Camille underwent another period of rapid intensification and became a Category 5 hurricane the next day as it moved northward towards the Louisiana–Mississippi region. Despite weakening slightly on August 17, the hurricane quickly re-intensified back into a Category 5 hurricane before it made landfall a half-hour before midnight in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. At peak intensity, the hurricane had a minimum pressure of 900 mbar (26.58 inHg). This was the second-lowest pressure recorded for a U.S. landfall, and is one of just four hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S at Category 5 status. Only the 1935 Labor Day hurricane had a lower pressure at landfall. As Camille pushed inland, it quickly weakened and was a tropical depression by the time it was over the Ohio Valley. Once it emerged offshore, Camille was able to restrengthen to a strong tropical storm, before it became extratropical on August 22. Camille was subsequently absorbed by a frontal storm over the North Atlantic on the same day.

Prior to the founding of National VOAD, numerous organizations served disaster victims independently of one another. These included both government and the private, nonprofit sector. As a result, help came to the disaster victim haphazardly as various organizations assisted in specific ways. Unnecessary duplication of effort often occurred, while at the same time, other needs were not met. People who wanted to volunteer to help their neighbors affected by disaster were often frustrated by the variety of organizations in some areas of service and the total lack of opportunities to serve other needs. Further, there was only limited availability of training for potential volunteers. Information for victims on services during disasters was woefully inadequate. Likewise, communication among voluntary disaster agencies was very limited and coordination of services was negligible. In fact, mechanisms for this were non-existent. [1]

The seven founding organizations met on July 15, 1970 in the American Red Cross headquarters to establish a unified response to national disasters, committing to fostering the 4Cs—communication, coordination, collaboration, and cooperation—in order to better serve people impacted by disasters. In attendance were the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, Mennonite Disaster Service, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, the National Disaster Relief Office of the Roman Catholic Church, and the American Red Cross. [2] [3] [4] Annual meetings were held from 1971 onward, and National VOAD was established in 1975.

American Red Cross Nonprofit medical, rescue, and emergency organization

The American Red Cross (ARC), also known as The American National Red Cross, is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education in the United States. It is the designated US affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the United States movement to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Seventh-day Adventist Church Protestant Christian church founded in 1863

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination which is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in Christian and Jewish calendars, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the mid-19th century and it was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church.

Southern Baptist Convention Large Christian denomination in the southern United States

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a Christian denomination based in the United States. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, and the second-largest Christian denomination in the United States, smaller only than the Catholic Church according to self reported membership statistics.

National VOAD is a leader and voice for the nonprofit organizations and volunteers that work in all phases of disaster — preparedness, response, relief, recovery, and mitigation. National VOAD is the primary point of contact for voluntary organization in the National Response Coordination Center (at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters) and is a signatory to the National Response Plan. [5]

Federal Emergency Management Agency United States disaster response agency, part of Department of Homeland Security

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, initially created by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978 and implemented by two Executive Orders on April 1, 1979. The agency's primary purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities. The governor of the state in which the disaster occurs must declare a state of emergency and formally request from the president that FEMA and the federal government respond to the disaster. The only exception to the state's gubernatorial declaration requirement occurs when an emergency or disaster takes place on federal property or to a federal asset—for example, the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, or the Space Shuttle Columbia in the 2003 return-flight disaster.

Since the initial seven founding organizations convened in 1970, National VOAD's membership has grown to 110 Members total, including 55 National Member organizations and 55 State/Territory Members.

In 2010, FEMA and National VOAD signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each other to broaden the communication and coordination between FEMA and National VOAD’s Members.

National members

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the largest membership association of amateur radio enthusiasts in the USA. ARRL is a non-profit organization, and was co-founded on April 6, 1914 by Hiram Percy Maxim and Clarence D. Tuska of Hartford, Connecticut. The ARRL represents the interests of amateur radio operators before federal regulatory bodies, provides technical advice and assistance to amateur radio enthusiasts, supports a number of educational programs and sponsors emergency communications service throughout the country. The ARRL has approximately 154,000 members. In addition to members in the US, the organization claims over 7,000 members in other countries. The ARRL publishes many books and a monthly membership journal called QST. The ARRL held its Centennial Convention in Hartford, Connecticut in July 2014.

Church World Service (CWS) was founded in 1946 and is a cooperative ministry of 37 Christian denominations and communions, providing sustainable self-help, development, disaster relief, and refugee assistance around the world. The CWS mission is to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice at the national and international level through collaboration with partners abroad and in the US.

Volunteer Ministers Scientology organization

A Volunteer Minister (VM) is a member of Scientology sent to a disaster zone to spread the doctrine of Scientology and provide disaster relief. The program was created in the 1970s by Scientology founder L.. As of 2016, The volunteer ministers has a network of over 9,000 trained ministers.

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Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation (OB) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization founded in the United States. Beginning in 1978, OBI has worked in more than 90 countries and every state. Implementing programs that provide disaster relief, medical aid, clean water, hunger relief, community development and orphan care, Operation Blessing is governed by a national board of directors.

Mennonite Central Committee organization

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a relief, service, and peace agency representing fifteen Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Amish bodies in North America. The U.S. headquarters are in Akron, Pennsylvania, the Canadian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Emergency management Dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies

Emergency management is the organization and management of the resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies. The aim is to reduce the harmful effects of all hazards, including disasters.

Most emergency management in the United States is done at the local and state level. The Department of Homeland Security has attempted to standardize equipment, organizational structures, and terminology to create better response and preparedness to large and small-scale disasters across the country. The National Incident Management System is a collection of principles and methods that can be utilized by local, state, federal emergency managers as well as the private sector and NGOs. NIMS aims to better improve the nation's response to emergencies. Its goal is a better system that can more efficiently allocate resources in the event of a disaster and facilitate cooperation among diverse entities and agencies. Large-scale disasters in the past in the U.S. suffered from a lack of solid coordination and authority, as well as different entities utilizing different lingo when communication which led to confusion. NIMS attempts to solve these issues. To that end, FEMA developed the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Disaster response

Disaster response is the second phase of the disaster management cycle. It consists of a number of elements, for example; warning/evacuation, search and rescue, providing immediate assistance, assessing damage, continuing assistance and the immediate restoration or construction of infrastructure .The aim of emergency response is to provide immediate assistance to maintain life, improve health and support the morale of the affected population. Such assistance may range from providing specific but limited aid, such as assisting refugees with transport, temporary shelter, and food, to establishing semi-permanent settlement in camps and other locations. It also may involve initial repairs to damaged or diversion to infrastructure.

Hurricane Katrina disaster relief

The disaster recovery response to Hurricane Katrina included federal government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the United States Coast Guard (USCG), state and local-level agencies, federal and National Guard soldiers, non-governmental organizations, charities, and private individuals. Tens of thousands of volunteers and troops responded or were deployed to the disaster - most in the affected area but also throughout the U.S. at shelters set up in at least 19 states.

Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act is a United States federal law designed to bring an orderly and systemic means of federal natural disaster assistance for state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens. Congress's intention was to encourage states and localities to develop comprehensive disaster preparedness plans, prepare for better intergovernmental coordination in the face of a disaster, encourage the use of insurance coverage, and provide federal assistance programs for losses due to a disaster.

Amateur radio emergency communications

In times of crisis and natural disasters, amateur radio is often used as a means of emergency communication when wireline, cell phones and other conventional means of communications fail.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is a Commonwealth of Massachusetts agency. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is the Agency that coordinates federal, state, local, and private resources throughout the Commonwealth during times of disasters and emergencies.

Citizen Corps is a program under the Department of Homeland Security that provides training for the population of the United States to assist in the recovery after a disaster or terrorist attack. Each local Citizen Corps Council partners with organizations, volunteers and businesses to organize responders, volunteers and professional first responders for an efficient response so efforts aren't wasted by being duplicated. By training in Incident Command, volunteers know who to report to and how the incident is organized. This prevents sites from being inundated by untrained and unprepared people milling about and getting in the way. Citizen Corps also works in conjunction with the Corporation for National and Community Service in promoting national service opportunities for promoting homeland security needs.

Katrina Aid Today is a relief charity in the United States, that works to provide long term recovery support to survivors of Hurricane Katrina. United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), the humanitarian relief and development agency of the United Methodist Church, manages the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sponsored program. Nine national partners and sixteen local organizations, who specialize in availability of benefits, resources and services, aim to deliver assistance to 300,000 of the most vulnerable survivors in the United States.

Lebanese Red Cross organization

The Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) is a humanitarian organization and an auxiliary team to the medical service of the Lebanese Army. Its headquarters is in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut. Founded in 1945, the organization comprises a number of approximately 7,000 members/volunteers and 200 staff personnel. The society works with the International Federation and the ICRC, and on a bilateral basis in the red cross are hgysbmglivb with the Norwegian and the French Red Cross. The LRC also works with the relevant components of the Lebanese authorities, with UN agencies and NGOs.

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is a department of the government of Oklahoma responsible for coordinating the response to a natural disaster that has occurred in the State and that has overwhelmed the abilities of local authorities. This is achieved primarily through the development and maintenance of a comprehensive statewide emergency management plan. OEM is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the federal government with other state departments and agencies, county and municipal governments and school boards, and with private agencies that have a role in emergency management.

The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) is a California cabinet-level agency responsible for overseeing and coordinating emergency preparedness, response, recovery and homeland security activities within the state. The agency was created by AB 38 (2008), superseding both the Office of Emergency Services (OES) and Office of Homeland Security (OHS).

Humanitarian response by non-governmental organizations to the 2010 Haiti earthquake

The humanitarian response by non-governmental organizations to the 2010 Haiti earthquake included many organizations, including international, religious, and regionally based NGOs, which immediately pledged support in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Besides a large multi-contingency contribution by national governments, NGOs contributed significantly to both on-the-ground rescue efforts and external solicitation of aid for the rescue efforts.

Lakeshore Area Regional Recovery of Indiana, or LARRI, is a committee of non-profit, faith-based, business, public and other community partners that are commonly known as a long-term recovery committee. LARRI was formed to serve the survivors of the flooding of September 13–15, 2008 who have reasonably exhausted their resources from insurance, FEMA, savings and other sources in the restoration of their homes.

Hurricane recovery in North Carolina Dealing with effects of hurricanes in North Carolina

Due to the common occurrence of hurricanes in the coastal state of North Carolina, hurricane recovery in North Carolina is a large component of the state's emergency management efforts. Recovery from these tremendous storms at the local and state level is a large part of the aftermath of a hurricane. Gavin Smith and Victor Flatt stated that "Disaster recovery remains the least understood aspect of hazards management, when assessed relative to preparedness, response, and hazard mitigation." Smith and Flatt also went on to state that the role of the states is even less understood. The review of the plans and policies that instruct recovery, agencies involved, funding processes and budgets, and the environmental effects of a hurricane creates a better understanding of how North Carolina recovers from a hurricane.


  1. "History". Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  2. V. Alex Kehayan. Resiliency in the Face of Disaster and Terrorism. p. 140. ISBN   1-932181-18-0.
  3. "National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster" (PDF). United States Senate. March 1, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 21, 2008.
  4. Mary C. Comerio. Disaster Hits Home. p. 264. ISBN   0-520-20780-7.
  5. "National Response Plan" (PDF). Department of Homeland Security. December 2004.
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