Washington County residents discuss COAD Tuesday
Residents of Washington County took the first steps toward creating a new disaster relief organization Tuesday night. Karla Mongan of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) visited the United Methodist Church in Washington to speak about creating an organization known as “COAD,” which stands for “Community Organizations Active in Disaster.”
Mongan began the evening by showing members of the audience a video about how COADs have been effective in other areas of the country. She then gave a presentation on the services provided by a COAD and the organizations that should be involved in a COAD. She said the difference between a COAD and emergency medical services is that while EMS provides care immediately after the disaster, the COAD would focus more on long-term recovery assistance.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the audience members decided to have another meeting in early January when COAD will be discussed further.
The theme of Mongan’s video was that it was important to have an organization in place to deal with disasters before they strike. The video also stressed that it was important for volunteer organizations to share the load of providing services to disaster survivors.
In her presentation, Mongan added that all disasters “begin and end locally.” She said Washington County has had a high number of disasters in the last 10 years. She said that it’s important to get many people involved in disaster relief, but also that those people need organization.
“The more people you get, the better off your community is going to be,” said Mongan. “It’s great to have all sorts of people who want to donate, but they need to know what to donate.”
Mongan said that managing donations was just one of the many functions of a COAD. It could also be used to coordinate feeding, sheltering and clothing of disaster victims, rebuilding fallen structures or even providing emotional care to the survivors.
After Mongan spoke, the audience was asked to give input on what they had seen and to make recommendations about how to move the COAD forward.
Father Paul Appel of St. James Catholic Church in Washington said he would like the duties of each group to be spelled out in advance to avoid confusion.
For the full story, see the Nov. 11 edition of The Washington Evening Journal