Oklahoma Storm Recovery Non-Profits Facing 'Urgent' Need for Volunteers

Following recent tornado outbreaks, a coalition of nonprofit organizations are in desperate need of volunteers.

Saturday, May 18th 2024, 10:25 pm



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The Oklahoma chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is expecting a large caseload of people needing help recovering from recent tornado outbreaks.

Those organizations expect an even greater need for volunteers.

"Often, it is about two and a half years from the point of impact until the last family is recovered," said Chad Detwiler, co-chair of volunteer management for the coalition and also president of Recovering Oklahomans After Disaster.

VOAD encompasses dozens of organizations that collaborate on needs while serving Oklahomans. Services range from legal help to food assistance, to home repairs.

"With the continual disasters that happen in the state of Oklahoma, we have a constant need of families that have home repairs that we need volunteers in order to help" Detwiler said. "Whether that's donating money or volunteering your time, it's something that's in a constant need in the state of Oklahoma."

Detwiler attributes a changing workforce, plus the COVID-19 pandemic and the natural aging of previous volunteers as reasons why the number of volunteers has declined. But, he credits the volunteers he has as passionate Oklahomans.

"Volunteers are a special breed," he said. "Those that have that compassion and heart of service to use the skills they have in-home repair. And, sometimes just being a willing servant to learn what needs to be done."

Ryan Deatherage partners with Detwiler to fill volunteer needs across VOAD. Deatherage represents Oklahoma Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

"We put on trainings throughout the year," Deatherage said. "We do specialized training and safety classes that allow people to become more familiarized with the trade they're going to be working in."

All services provided for families are free. Anyone can get involved by donating or volunteering their time to VOAD organizations.

Detwiler and Deatherage advised against spontaneously going into disaster zones on your own with no prior experience, and instead say prospective volunteers should find a non-profit to affiliate with for proper training.

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