One Year Later, AmeriCorps Continues Hurricane Maria Recovery Efforts

Sep 20, 2018

AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams remain in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – One year after Hurricane Maria made landfall, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps and leads the nation’s volunteer efforts, remains committed to the long-term recovery of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams, including FEMA Corps, remain on the islands even today and additional teams will deploy in the coming weeks. To mark the anniversary, the agency has released new photos and videos about the ongoing recovery efforts on the island.

AmeriCorps members deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in response to Hurricane Maria aided nearly 100,000 Americans and maintained nearly 1,400 structures through home assessments, mucking and gutting, home repairs, roof tarping, and sanitization. These teams also distributed nearly 1,000 tons of donations and cleared more than 16,600 cubic yards of debris, approximately 1,360 dump trucks worth. 

“For more than a decade, Americans have known that in times of disaster, they can count on us,” said Barbara Stewart, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps. “National service members are dedicated servants who accept the responsibility we all have to help our neighbors in need. We are proud to stand with the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as they begin the long process to rebuild and recover.”

Since last summer, more than 5,000 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members have been dispatched to Texas, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The agency also awarded more than $2.8 million in new, one-time, additional funding to Senior Corps and AmeriCorps organizations in impacted areas to support long-term recovery efforts.

The agency’s disaster response resources build upon the existing national service infrastructure on the islands. In addition to the disaster deployments, Puerto Rico hosts approximately 1,500 local AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members each year supported by the Comisión de Voluntariado y Servicio Comunitario en Puerto Rico, the governor-appointed state service commission. This fall, many of these local AmeriCorps members received additional training in disaster response, increasing the community’s ability to respond quickly.

With AmeriCorps members hailing from all 50 states and U.S. territories, CNCS deployed AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams over the last year from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and the Hoopa Valley Tribe.

AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams are expertly trained crews that can provide support for shelter operations, call centers, volunteer and donation management, muck and gut operations, blue-roof tarping, and debris cleanup, among other services. This response to Hurricane Maria also included AmeriCorps members serving with FEMA Corps, an innovative partnership to enhance the nation’s disaster response and recovery capacity, while expanding career opportunities for young people.

Currently, CNCS has activated more than 500 members of its AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team in response to Hurricane Florence. Those AmeriCorps members began hitting the ground this week to support shelter operations, distribution centers, and other logistical operations.

The 2017 disaster season affected nearly 47 million people in the United States. While recovery continues, CNCS is working closely with FEMA, who along with other interagency partners, remain focused and dedicated to the continued stabilization and resilience of impacted communities. FEMA and its federal partners have been making long term investments in the affected communities and will continue to focus on the progression of recovery for years to come.

Following a disaster, national service acts as a force multiplier, providing key resources and significantly expanding the capacity of existing organizations on the ground. In the last year, CNCS has deployed more than 5,000 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members to areas impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. From forest fires and floods, to hurricanes and tornadoes, to terror attacks and oil spills, participants in CNCS programs have provided critical support to millions of Americans affected by disasters since 1994.

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