At a recent "Yellow Cap" training for disaster relief volunteers, a women completed the one-day orientation and signed up on the e-mail notification list. A few weeks later, a natural disaster hit somewhere in the U.S. Texas Baptist Men sent out the call for immediate volunteers. Units were gearing up and leaving town within hours. The woman emailed me both confused and regretful that she could not participate. She had an ailing mother at home, she explained, and simply couldn't leave on such short notice.
This woman had fallen victim to the confusion between 'disaster relief' and 'disaster recovery.'
DISASTER RELIEF TEAMS, such as Texas Baptists Men Disaster Relief and Southern Baptists of Texas Disaster Relief, meet an immediate and urgent need. When lives and property are impacted by fire, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters, both immediate and long term responses are needed. Disaster Relief Teams are those that are able to drop everything, gather their belongings and be ready to roll with often only a few hours notice. That is an immediate crisis response occurring within hours and days of the disaster.
DISASTER RECOVERY TEAMS, such as Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery or the student division, Bounce, are those that respond on a schedule with a little more lead time. They are able to continue recovery and rebuilding efforts during the following weeks, months and even years. Dates are scheduled and published in advance so that volunteers have time to make arrangements for responsibilities and plan for the trip.
Both types of responses are essential. They sometimes overlap and the teams often coordinate and cooperate together. Don Gibson, Texas Baptist Men Executive Director, has provided an excellent explanation of the difference between Disaster Relief and Disaster Recovery in the Summer 2014 issue of Texas Baptist Men. (Read pdf version.)
If you have small children or aging parents in need of your daily care or a job with a demanding and inflexible schedule, you probably can't leave town with only a few hours notice. The Texas Baptist Men Yellow Cap Disaster Relief team (which also includes women, by the way) is probably not for you at this stage in your life. However, you could explore the Texas Baptist Disaster Recovery efforts which allow for adequate time to plan ahead and make arrangements to be away for an extended and calendared period of time.
Both immediate and long-term responses are essential when disaster strikes. (Click) for organizations where you can volunteer.
DISASTER RELIEF CONTACTS:
Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief
SBTC Disaster Relief
DISASTER RECOVERY EFFORTS:
Texas Baptist Recovery
Bounce (for students)