AmeriCorps Responds to Tennessee Wildfires

Destruction from Gatlinburg,Tennessee wildfires. Source: AmeriCorps NCCC.
Destruction from Gatlinburg,Tennessee wildfires. Source: AmeriCorps NCCC.

AmeriCorps NCCC Teams and Specialized Emergency Response Members Deployed to Assist Recovery Efforts

By Samantha Jo Warfield, CNCS

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, announced the first resources deployed to support the response to the wildfires in Tennessee. The more than 30 AmeriCorps members, many of whom come from the agency’s National Community Civilian Corps (NCCC) program, are spread from the Great Smoky Mountains into Sevier County.

Currently, three AmeriCorps NCCC teams have boots on the ground at the Rocky Top Sports Complex and Volunteer Reception Center in the Gatlinburg area. The AmeriCorps NCCC members are providing support for shelter operations, donations management, meal distribution, as well as critical manpower to the Volunteer Reception Center. In addition, six AmeriCorps members from the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response team are on the ground to help coordinate volunteer management efforts at the East Tennessee Volunteer Center.

“As Tennesseans return home and begin to rebuild, the national service family stands with them shoulder to shoulder in their time of need,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps. “We are inspired by the resilience of those affected and the swift and coordinated response of emergency personnel, government agencies, and nonprofit and faith-based groups whose work is helping save lives, provide shelter, and rebuild communities. Working handing in hand with local partners, the AmeriCorps members hitting the ground will provide vital relief to residents. We are committed to helping the people of Tennessee recover, both now and over the long haul, to ensure that every family is able to return safely to their homes.”

CNCS is coordinating closely with state and local authorities to monitor and assess additional resources needed within the community. In addition, the agency is working with Volunteer Tennessee, the state service commission responsible for implementing national service programs across the state.

Following a disaster, national service acts as a force multiplier, providing key resources and significantly expanding the capacity of existing organizations on the ground. More than 40,000 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members were deployed in response to Hurricane Katrina. In the decade since, AmeriCorps teams have provided critical support after countless disasters, including the Flint, Mich. water emergency, 2016 Louisiana Flood, 2014 Southeast Michigan flood, Hurricane Sandy, the 2013 floods in Colorado, tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Moore, Oklahoma, the explosion in West, Texas, and the Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill.

Through all its programs and initiatives, CNCS helps communities to prepare for, mitigate, respond, and recover from disasters. AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers can serve in a wide range of high-level roles, including assisting with evacuation and special needs residents, supporting long-term recovery, running volunteer centers and base camps, and leading large groups of volunteers.

Currently, more than 5,350 Tennessee residents serve through AmeriCorps and Senior Corps in more than 1,000 locations across the state. They tutor and mentor children, support veterans and military families, provide health services, restore the environment, respond to disasters, increase economic opportunity, and recruit and manage volunteers. CNCS has committed more than $18 million to support Tennessee communities through national service initiatives, which leveraged an additional $26.6 million in other resources to strengthen community impact.

More than 12,000 Tennessee residents have served more than 24 million hours since the program’s inception in 1994, earning Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards, or scholarships, totaling more than $42.6 million.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency, provides strong support, expertise, and trained and dedicated volunteers to help communities to prepare for, mitigate, respond, and recover from natural and man-made disasters. 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.

CNCS engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is headquartered at 250 E Street SW, Washington DC.

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About Kay Whatley 2244 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.