This year, Team Rubicon has responded to 34 disasters where hundreds of military veterans, first responders, and hard-charging civilians deployed to communities in the wake of historic spring flooding in Texas, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal, 100-mph straight-line winds in Michigan, and more.
While many of our volunteer members regain a sense a purpose, community, and identity often lost after hanging up their uniform, the opportunity to continue serving and increase effectiveness on the ground wouldn’t be possible without the four C’s – Cooperation, Communication, Collaboration, Coordination of our VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) partnerships.
When the earthquake struck Nepal in April, we sent 45 members from the U.S. to Kathmandu and 15 from the United Kingdom with support from Airlink. Direct Relief immediately reached out to ensure we had enough medical supplies to treat ailments encountered downrange. Then, we connected with All Hands volunteers on the ground to remove debris and help prepare a community for the rebuilding process.
In September, the Valley Fire wreaked havoc on Northern California and the American Red Cross requested our help in conducting damage assessments of hundreds of homes in and around Middletown, CA. Army veteran Jason Keller supported the operation and reflected on logging homes as BTG (burnt to ground) and NVD (no visible damage).
“BTG meant nothing was left. BTG was an ending to so many stories each of these families had built in those homes that once stood where only rubble was left behind,” wrote Keller. “Across dozens of square miles we would occasionally find a miracle of sorts. NVD. We were able to identify homes that were still standing. For those lucky enough on our assessment sheets, we were able to write NVD.”
In October, when South Carolina rains refused to slow, our team set up our Forward Operating Base in the city of Columbia to serve homeowners affected by the flooding. Like many events prior, ToolBank USA joined us and ensured our team was equipped with sledgehammers, hard hats, wheelbarrows, and basically anything needed to increase our productivity while mucking out homes.
When we’re not responding to disasters, we’re preparing for them. This includes taking part in Habitat for Humanity builds, where our members hone their skills for community service projects like demolishing the interior of a condemned home in Allentown, PA and preparing it to house a new family.
And along the way, we’re coordinating our efforts with FEMA, partnering to get better and expand capacity with USACE, plugging in with AmeriCares and Nechama to see how we can collectively accomplish more good, and we’re thankful to lean on VOAD partners and members who provide unique services to those who just experienced their worst day.
Team Rubicon’s Director of Field Operations David Burke added,“Team Rubicon has had a great a year – working with NVOAD members and partners has made it an awesome year. There’s greater need out there than any organization can answer alone, and we look forward to the opportunity to continue to strengthen our NVOAD partnerships and be a small part of scaling the whole community’s ability to provide aid to those affected by disaster.”