Volunteers needed for disaster response roles in Sarasota County

Health and Human Services Department ramping up for hurricane season, which begins June 1

A radar image shows Hurricane Charley in 2004. Image from Weather Underground
A radar image shows Hurricane Charley in 2004. Image from Weather Underground

The Sarasota County Health and Human Services Department is recruiting a team of volunteers to manage and run Volunteer Reception Centers (VRCs) during a time of disaster, the department has announced.

The VRCs are community locations where people who are willing to help during a time of disaster register and get their assignments, a news release explains. This is part of Sarasota County’s effort to ramp up for the coming hurricane season, which will begin on June 1 and continue through the end of November, the release adds.

Those interested in volunteering are invited to attend a VRC Recruitment and Training Workshop on Monday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to noon at Twin Lakes Park, located at 6700 Clark Road in Sarasota. A similar workshop will take place on Friday, July 29, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Morgan Family Community Center, located at 6207 W. Price Blvd. in North Port. “The workshops will provide hands-on practice in setting up and running a Volunteer Reception Center,” the release notes.

County leaders say it is a challenge to register everyone who volunteers following a disaster, the release points out. “Sarasota County has adopted VRCs as a best-practice model to help ensure volunteers work in meaningful and constructive roles during the disaster response and recovery process,” the release explains.

“We look forward to strengthening our community’s capabilities in placing volunteers during a time of disaster,” says William Freitas, human services strategic planner, in the release.

“The VRC would open at the direction of officials after the ‘all clear’ notice has been given,” adds Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane in the release. “Volunteers not already connected to an agency or organization would perform duties such as water and ice distribution, tree and limb removal, responding to an information hotline, delivering meals and more.”

Reserve space at a workshop by visiting this webpage: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VRC-Training. For more information, call 313-5821.

Those who are unable to attend the training sessions may register to become HS-Disaster Recovery Team members through www.scgov.net/Volunteer/Pages/ or by visiting the Welcome Center at the Sarasota County Administration Center, located at 1660 Ringling Blvd. in downtown Sarasota.