Team Rubicon is set to take on the full force of Hurricane Florence

Jonathan Kaupanger
September 12, 2018 - 3:56 pm

Photo by Team Rubicon

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“Watch out America!” Hurricane Florence is so big, Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut on the International Space Station says they had to use a wide-angle lens in order to take a photo of the massive storm.  “Get prepared on the East Coast,” he said on Twitter, “this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you.”

Thankfully there are organizations like Team Rubicon (TR) and they are prepared.

“We really prepare for these disasters all year around,” says Dennis Clancey, Team Rubicon’s Deputy Director of Field Operations.  “We’ve already responded in 2018 to 67 disasters.  And so our leaders have a lot of field experience, they’re well trained.  A lot of them dealt with Harvey last year which was the wettest tropical cyclone in the history of the United States, so we have a lot of experienced people.  Right now it’s those individuals making sure all their equipment is ready to go.  That their regional and state resources are ready.”

Started by veterans after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, TR is a non-governmental disaster relief organization.   The reach of TR is global and can respond to winter storms, wildfires and hurricanes.  According to Clancey, TR’s regional leaders are in the process of connecting with emergency managers and getting a good situational awareness of where resources are in the potentially affected areas.  “In some cases, we’re moving resources into the Carolinas to prepare for the worst,” he says.  “It’s a lot of coordination right now checking in with everyone and getting resources restaged so we’re prepared to launch.”

Coordination is the key to TR’s success.  Over the years, they’ve developed a large network of volunteers that provides relief to communities in need.  They also have a collection of technology partners the help with both pre and post-disaster assessment.  This helps TR identify where the most risk is.  TR is able to pre-stage equipment in areas that are relatively safe.  They then rely on local leaders who understand their areas better than anyone else. 

Because this is what TR does, Clancey has great advice for anyone in the storm’s path.  “I think the number one thing is please listen to evacuation orders,” he says.  “Those government agencies that are making those calls don’t do it lightly.  If they are calling for an evacuation of an area it is because there is a significant risk to the people in that area.”

His other advice is that if you are staying in place, you should start looking at ways you can fortify your structure, based on the risks you’re facing.  You should do what you can now to mitigate against a flood.  And have a fall back plan on how you can communicate with other people.

And as far as donations go, Clancey suggests money is best.  “A lot of times people look to donate goods,” says Clancey.  “In many cases, it’s better to donate cash because that can go to those non-governmental organizations that are helping out in that area.  And they really know how best to allocate that cash to have the most impact on communities affected.”

If you are in a disaster area and can use the help of TR, you can request help from one of TR’s partners, Crisis Cleanup.  Look at it like a central hub for disaster work order management.  Homeowners make their request for help at Crisis Cleanup and all non-governmental organizations like TR grab these work orders and execute them.

And if you think you have what it takes to become a Team Rubicon member, it’s not too late to respond to Hurricane Florence.  Go to www.TeamRubiconUSA.org to sign up. There’s a four to six hour online training and a background check to complete, but it only takes a day to sign up and be deployable.

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