When the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities volunteered to take on the role of managing a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) whenever a disaster occurs in the county, they had no idea they would actually be activated.
Staff from CCDD, as well as some of their community partners, had taken training to become a VRC just eight short months before the 2012 tornado hit the southern half of Clermont County.
During the week after the storm, staff from CCDD opened the VRC and registered over 1,100 volunteers who worked in two donation management sites as well as in Moscow, Tate, Monroe, and Franklin Townships.
Going through an active disaster gave CCDD staff the opportunity to learn about how devastating this can be for community friends, how hard and how quickly emergency services departments work to restore a sense of normalcy in the areas hit, and how many kind people come from miles away to help wherever they can, for as long they are as needed.
In the months after the tornado, CCDD stayed active with the Ohio Valley Long Term Recovery Committee to offer assistance whenever a situation arose where we could help.
It came as a huge surprise when Pam Broughton, Clermont County Emergency Management Agency Director, nominated CCDD for a FEMA Award.
“Clermont County DD is an amazing organization,” said Broughton. “They have dedicated staff, resources, and time to developing the Volunteer Reception Center capability. It is a tremendous undertaking to coordinate and oversee the hundreds of spontaneous and well-intentioned volunteers that responded to help.”
In September, official notification was sent to CCDD, announcing that the agency had received an Honorable Mention for Outstanding Local Citizen Corps Initiative in the 2013 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards.
From almost 200 nominations, a winner was chosen from each of seven award categories.
Twenty-eight honorable mentions were given as well. Only two awards were presented in Ohio…CCDD was one of those two.
“We were so humbled by this recognition and are truly honored to have received such an amazing award,” said Lisa Davis, CCDD Community Relations Director. “Pam and those who worked the Emergency Operations Center during the 2012 tornado were very patient as we figured out what we were doing and put what we had learned in training into active procedures. We are grateful for what they taught us and are very appreciative of this prestigious honor.”
Broughton attended CCDD’s Good Fortune Recognition Dinner in October to present the official FEMA notification to Superintendent Sharon Woodrow and staff who worked the VRC in 2012.
“Clermont County DD is very deserving of this great honor,” said Broughton.
At this time, the framed FEMA notification hangs in the Administrative Offices at CCDD’s Wildey Center, and CCDD staff continue to tweak their VRC procedures through their Emergency Preparedness Committee. They remain in contact with Broughton and pay attention to her weather notification emails that are sent whenever the National Weather Service is tracking a storm—most recently, the wind storms of three weeks ago.
“We hope another disaster never strikes our county and that we never need to open the Volunteer Reception Center again,” said Davis. “However, we continue to stay alert, practice mock emergency exercises as often as we can, and will be ready if a disaster should hit our county again.”