People want to help in the worst way, and it’s important for the professionals to manage them just as they do everything else in disaster response. That’s what a disaster-relief professional told the Illinois Emergency Management Conference Wednesday about her experience in such crises as the Harrisburg tornado Feb. 29.
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Jody Gettys is director of U. S. disaster relief for Operation Blessing, an international charitable arm of the Christian Broadcasting Network. She said1100 people showed up spontaneously to help in the Harrisburg area. Gettys says it’s important for emergency professionals to build relationships with their local charitable agencies. She says you cannot tell volunteers, “Go away and come back later,” for reasons that include the bad publicity that would come if it’s portrayed in the news that the volunteers are unwelcome. Her presentation included slides of “Extreme Makeover”-style rebuilding of some victims’ homes.