Disaster responders from tri-state area conference in Biloxi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Disaster responders from tri-state area conference in Biloxi


Disaster responders from three states are meeting in Biloxi this week. The group is called VOAD, which stands for Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters. They're networking and learning to be better prepared, for when the next disaster strikes.

"Disaster case management is a very important part of long term recovery. But long term recovery is so huge," said the Red Cross presenter, as she spoke to a workshop at the conference.

They are the foot soldiers who muster to offer aid whenever disaster strikes. The conference is all about collaboration and cooperation.

"VOAD is not just an organization, it's also kind of a movement now for many people. We're realizing that this is really effective. When people come together to discuss things, to raise questions and with the spirit they intend to work together to find solutions. It's working," said Daniel Stoecker, the executive director of the National VOAD.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast seems the ideal spot to learn about disaster readiness and response. After all, two of the largest disasters in U.S. history impacted this area in recent years.

"As we know down here, we don't know when disasters are going to happen and the extremes that they happen. Realizing that they scale up, scale down. Having local organizations realize how to connect with the national partners, that coordination is one of those key things," said Warren Miller, the Tri-State VOAD chairman.

"We as a non-profit sector, do not want state government coming in and taking over," said one of the educators, speaking during a break out session about case management plans.

Organization leaders say such training and sharing is an essential part of improving disaster readiness. There are multiple layers of private, volunteer and government response.

"Many different organizations are out there helping and a lot of people don't realize that. So, that's the biggest challenge. Letting people realize there are a lot of resources. There's a lot of people in the community that are working to help you," said Stoecker.

And many of those helpers here, plan on being even better prepared the next time disaster strikes.

More than 100 disaster responders and volunteers are attending the three-day conference, which wraps up Wednesday at the Coast Coliseum Convention Center.

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