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Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has a long and robust history of supporting volunteers engaged in long-term recovery. Most recently, PDA has collaborated with response volunteer teams, some coming from neighboring states, to address basic needs immediately after a disaster.


On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization characterized the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. Overnight, COVID-19 changed the world fundamentally and universally, including how disaster preparedness, response, and recovery is carried out. That is why PDA and Florida Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Network (FLAPDAN) are testing a model for disaster volunteers for COVID-19 that may also be adapted for future pandemics.


Stay at home orders, social distancing protocols, personal protective equipment (PPE), prohibitions to inter-state travel, and other mandates require disaster response and recovery organizations to adapt. Until a vaccine is discovered and administered, it is no longer possible to send deployed personnel into a disaster area because they will need overnight lodging and meals. 


One adaptation organizations are implementing is using “commuter volunteers”. These volunteers would travel by car/van and bring all they need for a day’s work (food, water, PPE, tools) without the need for lodging.


PDA and FLAPDAN are developing a Commuter Volunteer model in a state with a history of high disaster incidences. Because Florida is such a state, and because PDA and FLAPDAN have a long history of partnership, the model is proposed to be developed and tested with the six Presbyteries in Florida, FLAPDAN and PDA.


After a disaster, a team of commuter volunteers will provide their own transportation to the work site and return home the same day. Overnight lodging will not be provided.  The typical work includes muck/gut, debris removal, and temporary repairs to stop additional home damage. If you are interested in more information or would like to register as a Commuter Volunteer, click here: