According to EDEN chair Rick Atterberry, “The November 17th  tornadoes demonstrated the need for more and more effective COADs [Community Organizations Active in Disaster] in Illinois. While agencies did a commendable job in response and early recovery, there is no question some time was lost as they figured out their roles on the fly. Robust COADs would have been of great value.”
In his role as past president of Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), Steve Cain reiterated the need for establishing COADs, “With back-to-back disasters, emergency managers in Indiana have discovered that communities with COADs are much better at recovery. COADs take work off of emergency managers’ plates, especially in response and recovery.”
One of last year’s Smith-Lever Special Needs Grant Program awards went to the University of Missouri to test the the second edition (introductory presentation) of Missouri’s Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) Guidance Manual. EDEN delegate Conne Burnham leads the project.
The first manual was developed in 2002 by the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency to assist local communities in the development of COADs. Since then, major changes in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) policy and direction have occurred. FEMA’s current strategic plan (FY 2011-2014) includes a mission to ensure resilience to disasters. COADs are part of a resilient community.
The revised COAD Guidance Manual reflects that focus. The guide provides direction to local volunteer organizations and their emergency management agency offices in ways to establish local emergency human services for people in communities. It was tested in three states (MO, IL, and IN) using a tabletop exercise delivered via webinars. Following the webinars, Burnham noted, “Many of the webinar attendees were from COADs and nongovernmental organizations that respond to disaster. Local emergency management did not get engaged unless the COAD did. The ones who attended gave it kudos.”
Burnham also noted that COADs and EMA offices will use the guide but may not completely follow it because there is so much content. Rather, they will probably add sections to their emergency operations plans as they need and can support them.
If you are interested in seeing the COAD Guidance Manual, please contact Dante Gliniecki at the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Human Services section.
Beverly Samuel is NIFA liaison to EDEN and NIFA contact for the Smith Lever Special Needs Program. Last year’s solicitation opened April 24 and had a closing date of May 31 with an estimated program funding total of $462,000.
Be ready when the 2014 call for proposals is announced!