National Service News: When Disaster Strikes, Count on National Service

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AmeriCorps FEMA Corps Brittany Bieber talks with Melanie Green after a tornado struck her neighborhood in May 2013. (Photo by Steve Zumwalt/FEMA)

When Disaster Strikes, Count on National Service

June 1 marks the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which is a reminder to all of us to keep the weather in mind as we make plans for summer activities. (The early arrival of Subtropical Storm Alberto also reminds us that this traditional designation is a guideline, not a rule.) 

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), through the people power of our AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs, provides resources to help communities mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural and man-made disasters. 

The service our members and volunteers provide is offered selflessly to help our fellow citizens in their greatest time of need. The support national service gives to state and local governments, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations builds their capacity to plan for these events, and bolsters the help they can provide during the months and years of recovery that follow. 

Much of the credit for this effort goes to the CNCS Disaster Services Unit, which leads and coordinates our efforts in this area. 

We have specially trained AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams that are available to deploy at a moment's notice to assist emergency management agencies nationwide. We also have a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that utilizes AmeriCorps NCCC members to strengthen federal disaster preparation and response efforts through a special FEMA Corps unit. There are also Senior Corps RSVP volunteers who are trained to help in times of emergency.

When disaster strikes, you will find national service members operating hotlines and shelters, or organizing volunteers and managing donations that arrive on the scene. And our AmeriCorps members continue to help communities recover for months and years by mucking and gutting damaged homes or making much-needed repairs.

(Watch the video below or follow this link to see some of the ways national service programs responded to Hurricane Harvey last year.)

National service responds to Hurricane Harvey video


The 2017 hurricane season had 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and six major hurricanes. (The National Weather Service predicts a likelihood of 10-16 named storms this year.) Many communities in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria are still recovering from the impact of those storms. And even more communities needed help before and after floods, wildfires, tornadoes, mudslides, or other emergencies that may not have become national news, but deeply affects those impacted.

The variety of events that can impact our safety means that we need to expect the unexpected and plan accordingly. ( has preparation tips for almost any disaster imaginable, if you're wondering where to start.)

However, when preparation is not enough, it's good to know that national service is ready to help our neighbors in need.

In Service, 

CNCS Office of External Affairs

P.S. Visit the National Service Blog to find some timely hurricane preparedness tips from our Disaster Services Unit. 

Editor's note: By clicking the links below, you may be connecting to websites created by parties other than the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The CNCS Office of External Affairs provides links to these stories because they contain information that may be useful or interesting to the national service and volunteering community. These links are for reference only, and CNCS does not endorse the individuals or organizations associated with these links, and cannot attest to the accuracy of the information provided by websites outside of our control.

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