Thousands of Volunteers Helping Fla. Residents

November 22, 2004

More than 140,000 volunteers reportedly continue to answer the call to help Florida residents recover from the four hurricanes that have hit the state since August.

In coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) and Volunteer Florida, which oversees the activities of volunteers and donations in the state during times of disaster, groups such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and approximately 100 faith- and community-based organizations have tirelessly worked to address the needs of Floridians in the wake of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

“We salute the efforts of the countless volunteers who have partnered with us,” said Craig Fugate, state coordinating officer. “Their teamwork and contributions are immeasurable.”

One such group, the Florida Interfaith Networking in Disasters (FIND), on Oct. 15 received the Governor’s Points of Light Hurricane Hero Award. FIND is an Orlando-based coalition of faith-based organizations that promotes networking to prepare for and respond to state disasters. It was recognized by the state of Florida for its volunteer efforts and programs to assist residents who suffer long-term effects from the disasters.

“These organizations have been on the frontlines daily in our recovery efforts,” said Bill Carwile, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer. “The work they are doing in local communities will be felt for years to come.”

In an effort to help residents recover:

* 140,915 volunteers have performed such recovery tasks as placing tarps on roofs; removing large trees, limbs and debris; preparing millions of meals; staffing shelters that have housed 368,438 people; and receiving, sorting and delivering supplies.
* Volunteers have worked more than 5.9 million hours, valued at $102 million.
* $18.6 million has been raised for the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund Gov. Jeb Bush established to address the needs of victims and to rebuild communities.
* 818 AmeriCorps members from 19 states worked with hurricane victims and communities providing relief work and are currently wrapping up.
* More than 80,000 people have called the Florida Volunteer and Donation Hotline at 1-800-FL-HELP-1.
* More than 183,000 people have visited to get information and make donations since Hurricane Charley hit Florida, with 6,257 registering to volunteer.

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