Huron County seeks disaster volunteers

When a tornado slammed into David Kane's home on Bogart Road in 1992, no one came in the days afterward to help him clean up or ask what he needed.
Annie Zelm
Mar 14, 2011

 

When a tornado slammed into David Kane's home on Bogart Road in 1992, no one came in the days afterward to help him clean up or ask what he needed.

The winds ripped through windows and French doors, leaving Kane and his daughter huddled on the floor amid broken glass.

Now the 61-year-old helps others pick up the pieces after disaster strikes.

As a member of the Erie County Citizen Emergency Response Team, he mobilized about 1,300 volunteers to provide support for Ottawa County residents devastated by a tornado last spring.

"It's been my nature if someone's in need, I go out and help," said Kane, an administrator for Calvary Temple Church in Sandusky. "I figured I might as well learn the right way to do it."

Erie County's team was lauded by other rescue operations for its response in Ottawa County, which doesn't have a team of its own but has applied for a grant to start one.

Huron County emergency officials also hope to replicate the success of Erie County's team as it recruits volunteers for its own.

The Huron County Emergency Management Agency will stretch about $6,000 of funding from the federal Citizen Corps Council this year to cover the costs of training and supplies for the 30 or so volunteers.

At least 10 have answered the call to help so far, said Sandy Waggoner, who coordinates the response teams in both Erie and Huron counties through RS Associates, a company that contracts with the EMA offices.

Anyone 17 or older can join the team as long as they have a good legal record and are physically able to do the jobs for which they volunteer.

Those jobs could include everything from manning the phones at an office to providing food and water to first responders and meeting with homeowners.

"It's using a combination of common sense and compassion for people that have been in a disaster," Waggoner said. "Every time we respond, you're probably going to do something a little bit different."

The team assists other agencies but doesn't duplicate their work, she said.

In the days after the tornado in Ottawa County, the volunteers managed unsolicited donations and stopped by each of the 50 or so damaged homes twice a day to find out what the residents needed most.

"I was very impressed with them," Allen Clay Joint Fire District Chief Bruce Moritz said, adding that the Erie County CERT made sure all of the volunteers who spontaneously showed up were registered and tasked with specific duties. "They filled a void -- with what they did, I was able to pull my people back and keep them available for emergency runs."

Just last week, Erie County's team helped assess 60 houses damaged in the Franklin Flats area.

It allowed EMA director Bill Walker to quickly send information to the state and federal governments and find out if those residents qualified for assistance.

Team members can choose whether they have the time or ability to respond to a particular situation each time they're called.

Huron County EMA director Jason Roblin said the team will be funded by grants for at least the next two years, but the county will have to find another way to support it if the grant stream runs dry.

Still, it provides a lot of help at a minimal expense.

"A few years ago, I had a smaller picture of what (the team) might be able to do -- it was more neighbor helping neighbor," Roblin said. "But after the team deployed to Ottawa County, I had a greater sense of what they could do. In larger events, the current force isn't big enough.

"You need to keep track of every volunteer out there," Roblin said. "There's just so many little things to make sure everyone is safe and goes home."

 

Want to volunteer:

• E-mail Sandy Waggoner of the Huron County Citizen Emergency Response Team at sandy@rsassociatesllc.com, or call her at 419-602-0758.

• Or contact Jason Roblin at 419-663-5772, or email him at Director@huroncountyema.com.

Comments

Erie County Resident

Glad you wonderful people are here and willing to help one another.

To bad Obummer and FEMA thumb their nose at the American citizens that need help from natural disasters like this, and the tornado over in Wood county.

Sure didn't  take them long to jump in and throw money at Japan, less than 24 hours. I don't wish anything bad on the Japanese people but wonder why our own citizens are considered 2nd class people to the US government?

FST

It isn`t just Obama that doesn`t care about Americans. It is the whole US government!

KURTje

You take a call for help & turn it negative.............gawd.

Just Thinkin

I had help in 92, Before it was dark had people walking away with our private property

The Answer Person

uhhhh....there is a HUGE difference in someone living in Franklin Flats which is one foot above normal water level (big DUH here) and a tsunami whiping out an entire town or country.

I would MUCH rather send our money to Japan than to you republicans who are nauseating, self-centered, holier-than-thou jerks who claim to be "christian".

See ya in church...

thomtom

The people down in Franklin Flats  knew what they where buying and living in, This happens every year. It does not come to a surprize to me when it happens  It sure should not surprise them...

Truth or Dare

 That thumbing of the nose, well at least for some, started quite sometime ago!   See, it really depends upon which kinda neighborhood you live in.  The response for Katrina (more than just a thumbing of the nose, more like a great big FU)  was a disaster itself!  You've been in legal trouble in the past, you won't qualify to volunteer for such a program?   Let me tell ya, someone comes by my flooded home w/a boat to rescue us, or chainsaws to help cut the trees that were blown atop our home, you think I'm gonna ask to see a freakin legal resume before I reach my hand out to accept that help?!  Unforgiving and intolerant is what this country has become, and to it's very own detriment!  Just more FEMA, bureaucratic BS is all!  As for disaster preparedness, what's the new Gov. of Ohio doing to help flooded counties?  Cause I would say the Ohio Valley area and low-lying local areas is having a major problem,  w/a  tsunami of a different form, waves of rainfall, and more and more  snow!   

madmom

where do you call to sign up to be a volunteer?

ronk36

@ "The Answer Person":

Congratulations, you came across as a complete idiot. Of course there is a big difference between [seemingly annual] flooding in the Franklin Flats vs. a disaster such as the Japanese tsunami.

This article doesn't seem to be illustrating that anyone was under that illusion. The article is merely conveying to the readers how to become involved as a volunteer and illustrated a small part of what volunteers did at the Franklin Flats, to give the readers an idea of what they could potentially do. The aforesaid funding is allotted for training of said volunteers, everyday people, and naturally a portion of that will be remitted to the person or persons who are certified to teach the training courses. We're talking MAYBE $160 per teacher per class. I think people like you are the ones with a severe misconception of what the United States and its citizens should be.

I just can’t wrap my head around you being against the government, whether that is on a Federal, State, County or City level, with respect to taking care of its citizens. I agree with you that FEMA has a pretty bad track record. The way you make it sound is that we should help everyone else abroad and let our fellow neighbors hang out to dry. Again, this wasn’t a shear disaster, I agree, but clearly there was a need; do you think CERT personnel and volunteers just went out to the Franklin Flats because they had nothing better to do and take time out of their personal lives?

As far as the Christian comment, it did not see where Mr. Kane or anyone else stated that it was their Christian duty or anything of the sort to go out and volunteer. I think these people deserve a thank you. They take time out there lives and spend money out of their own pocket (classes, equipment..etc., the municipalities don’t pay for anything on their end) to serve their community.

If you're so concerned about "real" disasters, how about you quit wasting your time on this site and focus your efforts on finding a way to help Japan.