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Southwestern Vermont COAD and the American Red Cross DAT

The BCRC held an informational meeting in June to discuss the formation of the Southwestern Vermont COAD. COADs are Community Organizations Active in Disasters and are comprised of various public, private and non-profit agencies, and community members that come together to enhance the area’s ability to recover from disasters.

COADs are essential to helping individuals affected by a disaster. For small or large disasters, COADs pull together and coordinate local resources to assist in response and recovery. COAD services can include debris removal, food for victims or responders, clothing and household goods, overnight sheltering, volunteer management, animal care, social service support, donation management, transportation, insurance claim assistance, and more. COADs help individuals that need assistance by connecting them to services and organizing the support.

In addition to the formation of the Southwestern Vermont COAD, the American Red Cross has met with the BCRC several times this spring regarding the development of a Disaster Action Team (DAT) in the Bennington area. DATs are the first, on-scene, Red Cross contacts at a disaster. They are not first responders but provide direct assistance to help those who have been affected as they begin the recovery process. DAT responders may conduct damage assessments of affected dwellings; make sure those affected have shelter, food, clothing, medications and other immediate needs; and/or assist with shelter operations for larger scale disasters.

These two groups are closely related but differ slightly in their response and recovery efforts. DATs are right there after the disaster and their presence is there until those affected are settled and have the necessities they need. COADs can also be on scene immediately after a disaster, but are also there for a longer recovery period, helping homeowners get back into their houses (if they can be inhabited) and small businesses get back up and running.

Both of these volunteer groups are in the beginning stages. If you are interested in volunteering for one or both of these groups, please contact Allison Strohl at alangsdale@bcrcvt.org or (802) 442-0713. No experience is necessary, as training will be provided. Please consider helping the Bennington area become better prepared for future disasters.