FEMA Urges Volunteers to Work Through Organizations

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COLUMBIA - The Federal Emergency Management Agency urges those trying to help with the disaster relief effort in Joplin to work through recognized disaster relief organizations.

Everyone should go through organizations like the American Red Cross and the United Way not only because they are reliable but because it helps structure the relief efforts as well. Those who are not volunteering or donating through such organizations might actually slow down the efforts.

Some donated goods have begun to go bad before they can even be distributed to victims, and volunteers not working through organizations create unecessary work, as relief workers in Joplin will have to stop what they're doing to find jobs for and supervise the volunteers.

F.E.M.A. and the United Way said donating money to disaster relief organizations is the most beneficial way to help the relief effort. This is because money can be used for whatever need arises.

Volunteering your time is the next best thing you can do. Once again, it is important to work through a recognized disaster relief organization. This helps to make sure volunteers are prepared for what they will do for the relief and to keep track of the volunteers as they work in possibly dangerous situations.

Organizations need volunteers not only for the current effort in Joplin, but for other efforts down the road.

Executive Director of the Heart of Missouri United Way, Tim Rich, said, "We need you now, but it may be that if you can go down and volunteer in a month, or in sixty days, or six months from now, there are still going to be needs there that need to be met. And we need that kind of long-term committment."

"The reality is for Joplin, this is going to be a 1 to 2 year or longer rebuilding effort."

The last way to help is by donating goods as they are needed for the relief effort. Many goods have already been sent to Joplin, but volunteers are having a hard time storing and using all they have been given to this point.

It's best for those willing to donate goods to do so through an organization that can inform them of what they need and when they need it.