Devastating floods in Louisiana aren’t receiving the kind of national news coverage as have other big disasters, and that’s affecting the amount of volunteer assistance victims are receiving, according to an email message from nonprofit relief organization Operation Blessing International (OB).
As you’ll see in the verbatim message below, OB has a great need for volunteers who are able to travel from outside the disaster area. Please share this information widely, to improve the chance that it will get in front of the eyes of someone who might be able and willing to help.
From: “Operation Blessing International” <email@example.com>
Subject: Manpower Desperately Needed in LA: Operation Blessing Volunteer Housing Now Available
Date: 20 Aug 2016 14:59:38 -0600
Dear OB Volunteer:
Operation Blessing is on the ground in the Denham Springs and Baton Rouge areas following the catastrophic floods that devastated parts of Louisiana and Mississippi this past week with more than 40,000 homes affected and thousands or residents who have lost everything. You can provide the hope that they need, by volunteering your time!
Manpower is desperatelyneeded! Because so many homes have been flooded, the local volunteer response is limited and with the lack of news coverage that leaves these residents without the manpower and help they desperately need. Please consider getting a team of friends, coworkers or members of your church together. We will take care of everything you need, including housing, if you can just get here!
Volunteers are needed to sort through and salvage belongings, remove flooded debris, gut homes by removing soggy insulation and drywall and most importantly be there to love, listen, and minister to these precious residents who have lost so much.
Volunteer Housing is now available! Operation Blessing provides lodging, meals, tools and makes work assignments. All we ask volunteers to provide is their own transportation to and from the work site each day. Volunteers must be 18 years or older and serve in teams of at least 2 people. To stay in Volunteer Housing, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, telephone number, and number of team members and we will give you a call within 24-48 hours or you may call us at 757-226-3407.
If you are local to the area and do not need volunteer housing, you can report directly to the site Monday – Saturday 8:30 AM and Noon. Volunteer Check-In is located at:
Healing Place Church (Denham Springs Campus)
569 Florida Avenue SW
Denham Springs, LA 70726
Just a few days of your time can make an eternal impact to the people of Louisiana who have lost so much.
Thank you and God Bless.
Kerry L. Dodson National Volunteer & U.S. Programs Manager
U.S. Disaster Relief Operation Blessing International
977 centerville turnpike | virginia beach, va 23463
office: (757) 226-3407|fax: (757) 277-0231 | web: www.ob.org
The tweet above from Valparaiso University meteorology student and Fort Wayne resident Matthew Hayes points out something a lot of Allen County, Indiana residents probably don’t know. The county’s outdoor warning siren system is all-or-nothing. That means that when a tornado warning covers any part of the county, sirens sound throughout the county, which encompasses 660 square miles (making it the largest county by area in the state).
That’s what happened at about 9:06 p.m. last night, when the northern Indiana office of the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning that included a small part of southwestern Allen County. A very small part:
The Fort Wayne-Allen County Consolidated Communications Partnership center dutifully followed protocol and activated Allen County’s outdoor warning siren system. People throughout the county who were close enough to a siren would have heard it sound. Presumably, this included people 26 miles away in Harlan, where the storm wasn’t forecast to travel. See a map of all Allen County’s sirens. Remember, sirens are designed for outdoor alerting only, but people can sometimes hear them from inside their homes, if their homes are close enough to a siren.
Ironically, if anyone was in the small part of Allen County that the warning covered, it is unlikely they heard a siren. The nearest operating outdoor warning siren is at least four miles away, at the headquarters of the Southwest Allen County Fire Department on Indianapolis Road.
So, last night’s tornado warning demonstrated two weaknesses of outdoor warning sirens as primary means of learning of such warnings:
Outdoor warning sirens cannot be heard in many parts of Allen County, even by people who are outdoors.
Sirens are often activated where warnings are not in effect.
What should you do? For geographic precision, your best bet is a good smartphone app, like Storm Shield or Weather Radio. These apps use your phone’s GPS to determine whether it is within the actual warning area. The next best thing is the Wireless Emergency Alerts that are built into modern smartphones. As I explained in another blog post, the geographic precision of such alerts is imperfect, but it’s better than countywide, doesn’t require installing an app, and it’s “on” by default on modern smartphones.
When you’re home, weather alert radios provide very reliable alerts but have the disadvantage of alerting an entire county for any warning that includes any part of that county. At least weather radio alerts — unlike outdoor warning sirens — come with voice messages the explain what part of the county is affected.
The bottom line, as I’ve written before, is don’t rely on tornado sirens. Not hearing one does not mean you don’t need to take cover, because you might be in a place where it’s impossible to hear a siren. Hearing one does not necessarily mean you need to take cover, because your neighborhood siren might sound for a warning that doesn’t affect you. Find a better way to know if you are in danger!
Side note: Based on what I know about how the National Weather Service generates warnings, I highly suspect that the meteorologist who issued last night’s warning probably intended to keep the warning polygon out of Allen County entirely, but accidentally overshot the county line when drawing the warning polygon.