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Fires and Floods Highlight Need for Local Responders

Fire Safety
"We want to build capacity now, before another disaster strikes."

The American Red Cross relies on the power of volunteers to be able to respond to disasters 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Mohawk Valley Chapter – which serves Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego, and Delaware counties – is called to an average of 100 home fires and other local disasters annually. Volunteers work in teams of two or more to answer the call and provide relief in the form of shelter, financial assistance and emotional support to help their neighbors when they need it most.  

“Hurricanes Sandy and Irene deeply affected Otsego and Delaware counties, so we are preparing our people and our resources to ensure that disaster relief remains immediately available to those in need,” said Mallory Scheve, Executive Director, American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley. “We want to build capacity now, before another disaster strikes. If you have ever had an interest in responding to disasters in your community, I encourage you to consider becoming a Red Cross Disaster Responder this year.”

To make volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross more accessible, the Mohawk Valley Chapter will hold a three-week Disaster University in February at SUNY Oneonta:

American Red Cross Disaster University
February 8th, 15th, & 22nd
SUNY Oneonta - Alumni Hall
108 Ravine Pkwy, Oneonta, NY

Orientation 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Training 5:00 PM - 8:30 PM

An orientation session will be offered from 4:30 PM to 5:00 PM each night of the training for volunteers who are new to the Red Cross. At the Disaster University, new volunteers will complete all the on-boarding, orientation, and training necessary to begin their journey as a Disaster Action Team member or Disaster Responder. Course offerings include classes like Disaster Cycle Services: An Overview and Shelter Fundamentals. While it is not required to attend all three sessions to begin as a volunteer, it is highly recommended as each night will include different trainings. Disaster Action Team members cover on-call shifts to provide relief to victims of local home fires and other emergencies. Disaster Responders are trained to do things like open shelters and provide canteen services during large-scale disasters. 

To join a Disaster Action Team or be a Disaster Responder, volunteers must be at least 18 years old with a cell phone, email address, driver’s license, reliable transportation and a desire to help people in need. No experience is necessary, but those familiar with emergency services or fire scenes are especially encouraged to join. All training, including the three-week Disaster University, is provided free of charge.

To learn more and to register for Disaster University, please contact Taylor Fanelli at (315) 733-4666 or email Registrations are preferred but walk-ins are welcome. Those that are interested in volunteer opportunities but are unable to attend Disaster University may visit