Guidance for Volunteers
Disasters are complicated situations that require volunteers who are highly qualified and committed, not just individuals of good will with a spur of the moment urge to help and a small window of availability. If you are new to volunteering in times of natural disaster and want to help, here is some general information to keep in mind:
- Be prepared to work long hours; 12 to 14-hour days aren’t outside of the norm.
- You will likely be subject to highly stressful situations where your own basic needs (like bathroom access and eating) will need to be deferred for a time.
- Your accommodations (food, shelter, etc.) are likely to be basic and austere. Indoor plumbing may not be available. You may be housed in a tent (that you have to bring with you) or a gymnasium with many other people. Keep in mind that once your volunteer time is over, you can go home. Those you are helping likely cannot.
- You are going to encounter disaster survivors. They are going to be stressed. They may be desperate. They may be angry. Pack your patience and understanding.
- Be prepared to provide your credentials, certifications and identification to the jurisdictional representatives with whom you are assigned to volunteer.