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Volunteers needed for flood cleanup

The cry for help is very clear: “We need local volunteers.”

That was the message Mary Woodward, director of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, repeatedly emphasized earlier this week at the Lawrence County Emergency Management status conference.

The Lawrence County Disaster Fund, originally created during previous flooding disasters in Lawrence County, is again accepting donations to assist families trying to rebuild their homes and lives from recent flooding.

VOAD is a statewide network of disaster response agencies that came to the aid of the Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). One organization at the meeting offered its “Mud Out” trailer, a traveling flood response unit for pumping out water, debris removal and deconstruction. Another organization has an assessment worker who specializes in bridge and culvert washouts.

“We need these VOAD volunteers and their special skills to help families in our county. But we also need local volunteers who can work alongside them,” said Mike Boster, Lawrence County EMA Director. “Show them the back roads to families who need the most help. Provide some muscle to move the work forward.”

Friday, VOAD volunteer caseworkers visited three families, assessing damage and providing referrals to local agencies for help. A complete assessment can take several hours so families continue to wait for help. “I can teach just about anyone to do assessments,” Woodward said. “I just need willing volunteers–quickly.”

Another VOAD organization suggested organizing “mission trips” for church youth to help. However, housing and feeding large groups becomes an issue.

“Maybe some of the youth groups of local churches would like to have a community mission outreach right here at home,” suggested Boster.

Want to volunteer? Contact the Lawrence County EMA at 740-533-4375. Those interested are asked to be ready to say how many volunteers you have available, when they can work and what they want to do.

Another way to help is to donate to the revived Lawrence County Disaster Fund.

“We have a couple hundred dollars left from the last time we had big flooding. That won’t go very far in assisting families in our current flood situation but the fund is ready to ramp up again since there is a need,” board member Mike Corn said. “Be assured that every dollar donated to the fund will be used to help local families recover. The board is all local volunteers. Not one dime goes to pay overhead, salaries or anything other than helping Lawrence County families who’ve been flooded.”

Donations can be made payable to the Lawrence County Disaster Fund, P.O. Box 517, Ironton, OH 45638. A non-profit, 501(3)c organization, the fund is able to provide tax-deductible receipts to donors.

Corn also noted that since the fund’s board has not been active in several years, several new board members will be needed to oversee distribution of the funds.