Bryant: How Kane County Can Help Fairdale Tornado Victims — and Be Ready If Disaster Happens Here
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen acknowledged Tuesday the feeling many people in Kane County shared after the Thursday tornado that devastated Fairdale in nearby DeKalb County: There before the grace of God go I.
Lauzen also took a few minutes at Tuesday’s County Board meeting to acknowledge the “natural, human response.”
“First, how can we help those affected?” he said. “And the second question: What is it that we can learn? What if it happened here?”
Kane County Office of Emergency Management Director Don Bryant answered those questions during a brief presentation that led off Tuesday’s board meeting.
Bryant said that, had a tornado struck in Kane County, the first response would come from local police departments, fire departments and mutual-aid agencies. Typically, a fire chief from the Ground Zero department establishes a point of command, coordinates rescue and emergency operations and oversees communication of information to the general public.
Along with the public-safety response, a rapid response team from OEM uses its communication, equipment and volunteer resources to support the emergency efforts. In the case of Fairdale, Kane County’s OEM was asked to provide lighting to help clear roadways, allowing fire and emergency vehicles access to the devastated neighborhood.
Once the mutual-aid response is past and efforts move into the recovery phase, many people want to help, Bryant said, but the danger is that well-meaning people just hop in a car and show up, creating a difficult situation for the professionals coordinating rescue efforts.
To solve that problem, Bryant has begun the process of reorganizing OEM to include a Disaster Assistance Bureau, a cadre of people with specific skill sets and areas of expertise who can help in times of natural or man-made disasters.
Best Ways to Volunteer
Bryant also talked about the local arm of the Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters network, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that serves as the forum where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle — preparation, response, recovery and mitigation — to help communities prepare for and recover from disasters.
The national VOAD coalition includes more than 50 of the country’s most reputable national organizations (faith-based, community-based and other non-governmental organizations) and 55 state/territory VOADs, which represent local/regional VOADs and hundreds of other member organizations throughout the country.
The short list in Kane County includes the American Red Cross, Team Rubicon (a group of army veterans who travel all over the country to provide disaster relief), the United Way, Catholic Charities / Church of Latter Day Saints Charities, Lutheran Family Services, Mennonite Disaster Service, NECHAMA (Jewish Response to Disaster) and the Salvation Army.
Bryant said VOADs provide “a robust and qualified group to help recovery from disaster.”
“We’re moving into the use of VOADs,” Bryan said, because, “we know who we’re getting, we know what their qualifications are.”
Bryant said it’s also important for Kane County to build our own volunteer capabilities. Bryant said disaster relief in Fairdale and in Rochelle, which also was the site of a tornado touchdown Thursday, reveals the need for additional, active volunteers.
Kane County’s OEM is a group of 65 volunteers, a close-knit group that’s fully trained, meets at least once a month (often once a week) and contributes mightily to Kane County events management and emergency services.
“Each volunteer member brings unique skills, capabilities, and talents when they join the OEM. For a volunteer to be an integral part of the organization, he or she must be willing to share those talents and actively participate in the details, training, and calls for assistance,” the OEM volunteers page says.
How Kane County Residents Can Help Fairdale
Finally, Bryant said Kane County residents can specifically help in the Fairdale recovery.
“Over the past several days, they have received a large amount of donated items, to the point where they’re overloaded,” he said. “They have more than they can use right now. What they’re asking for is monetary donations.
“They’re literally starting from square one,” Bryant said. “So for Kane County residents, we’ve set up an opportunity to give.”
To contribute to the relief fund, Kane County residents can send a check, money order or cash to: Kane County Treasurer Fairdale Relief Fund, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva, IL 60134. The funds are being collected by the Kane County Treasurer’s Office and all proceeds will go to the relief fund for Fairdale residents.
Bryant also has set up a Kane County / Fairdale Relief GoFundMe page, where residents can contribute to the relief effort online.
Here is the text from the GoFundMe site:
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Kane County residents are known for their desire to help their neighbors in times of need. On April 9th the community of Fairdale, in neighboring DeKalb County, was ground zero for one of the biggest tornadoes ever to strike an Illinois community.
In an effort to help those who experienced this devastating tornado the County of Kane has established the Kane County / Fairdale Relief Fund. Donations to this fund will be used to help families in Fairdale recover from this disaster.
For additional information please contact the Kane County Office of Emergency Management.
Lauzen noted that a tornado hitting Kane County “is not a matter of if, but of when,” and said one of the most important things Kane County residents can do is volunteer. “This is really a call to recruit for volunteering, so that we are prepared to act in a constructive way.”
Bryant echoed those sentiments.
“It’s not important who you volunteer for; it’s that you volunteer,” he said.