The Disaster Services Unit (DSU) leads the agency’s engagement across the disaster services cycle with federal, state, local, nonprofit, and other partners. The DSU’s role as the central hub for the agency’s disaster-related activities ensures that AmeriCorps engagement in this area is appropriate, consistent, and coordinated. The DSU also provides technical assistance before, during, and after a disaster. This includes but is not limited to national service roles and functions in the disaster cycle, accessing national service support, volunteer and donations management, disaster response and recovery planning, disaster partnership building; and training support.


Recent and active responses

AmeriCorps member at food bank
AmeriCorps member putting out fire
AmeriCorps member clearing trees
AmeriCorps member clearing trees


How AmeriCorps Responds
 

1. National Response Framework (NRF)

AmeriCorps, through the DSU, is part of the NRF. The NRF is a guide to how the nation responds to all types of disasters and emergencies. It is built on scalable, flexible, and adaptable concepts identified in the National Incident Management System to align key roles and responsibilities across the nation. This Framework describes specific authorities and best practices for managing incidents that range from the serious but purely local to large-scale terrorist attacks or catastrophic natural disasters. The National Response Framework describes the principles, roles, responsibilities, and coordinating structures for responding to an incident and how response efforts integrate with those of the other mission areas.

2. National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF)

As the NRF serves as the national guide for disaster response, the NDRF serves as the guide for long-term recovery and is supported by the continual development of detailed field guidance, and training tools. The NDRF describes the concepts and principles that promote effective federal recovery assistance. AmeriCorps provides a support to the NDRF through the Recovery Support Functions. The NDRF captures resources, capabilities, and best practices for recovering from a disaster. It recognizes that significant challenges confront all recovery efforts, from a relatively localized incident to a large-scale disaster that demands substantial allocation of resources. Importantly, the NDRF is intended to address of all kinds of disasters, both big and small, whether it is Presidentially declared or not. Through its connection with the National Planning Frameworks, including the National Response Framework and the National Disaster Recovery Framework, AmeriCorps is positioned to be a leader in the disaster community.

3. FEMA Mission Assignment Development

In a federally declared disaster, the DSU will work with state and federal partners to identify unmet needs. In developing a Mission Assignment, the DSU will identify unmet needs, develop a timeframe for response, and provide technical assistance to both State and FEMA partners.

4. AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams (A-DRTs)

ADRTs are AmeriCorps programs that have a heightened focus and commitment to disaster response and recovery. A-DRTs engage in activities and trainings year-round, are a nationally deployable resource, and are recognized in the emergency management community as leaders in volunteer management.

5. AmeriCorps Members and AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteers

One of our key areas is disaster response and recovery and our programs have long since been the first to respond and the last the leave. AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps is a disaster-assistance focused track of AmeriCorps NCCC that is directly deployable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP engages 55 and over volunteers in each stage of disaster response.

 

Interested in disaster response service with AmeriCorps?

Find out more

 

Resource

Capabilities

AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams (A-DRTs) A-DRTs are current AmeriCorps programs that have focus on disaster services and serve as nationally deployable resources. The DSU oversees and implements the A-DRT program. All A-DRTs follow a standard, established protocol in the field when deployed by the DSU and are under the management of the AmeriCorps Incident Command System. These members can deploy to nearly any disaster and provide:
  • AmeriCorps Command Team (ACT)
  • Volunteer management 
  • Donations management
  • Mucking/gutting (post flood)
  • Debris management
  • Call center and data management 
  • Mass Care (sheltering, feeding)
  • Long term recovery development
AmeriCorps State and National Programs often respond to disasters as part of their ongoing grant program, and also as a result of cooperative agreements with AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps members engage in preparedness, response, and recovery. Programs with service that is interrupted by disaster may temporarily be redirected to disaster response activities. These programs provide support to their community by engaging in:
  • Volunteer management
  • Disaster survivor assistance.
AmeriCorps NCCC Members engage in a variety of projects related to disaster response and other phases of disaster (preparedness, recovery, and mitigation).
  • See A-DRT Capabilities for response capabilities 
  • Preparedness education
  • Rebuilding homes 
  • Natural debris clearing and prescribed burns
NCCC teams can be called upon to respond to disasters, often serving with local, state, tribal and federal partners.
AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps FEMA Corps members deploy with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during a disaster. They will most often serve at the Joint Field Office engaged in a variety of activities including:
  • Disaster Survivor Assistance (registering survivors for assistance)
  • Logistics support
  • Public Assistance projects (surveying, data management)
  • GIS Mapping
AmeriCorps VISTA Members may serve with partner organizations that are responding to the disaster, or working with local organizations in the community. Programs with service that is interrupted by disaster may temporarily be redirected to disaster response activities, such as volunteer coordination, donations management, or call center coordination.
AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP RSVP volunteers serve with organizations that play a role in the disaster response efforts. RSVP volunteers are serving in their own communities and have their own networks prior to and after the disaster event. RSVP can serve in a variety of capacities, including feeding, donations management, call center support, and Volunteer Reception Center support.
Disaster Cadre The AmeriCorps Disaster Cadre is a specialized group of federal staff members from across the agency who, when listed as available, can deploy to perform disaster field activities directly related to specific disasters, special projects, activities related to sustaining partnerships, and preparedness efforts within the disaster and emergency management field. The Cadre supports the Disaster Services Unit.

 

 

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A closer look at A-DRTs

A-DRTs Basics

A-DRT deployments are managed by the Disaster Services Unit. An Incident Command System (ICS) structure is used on deployments, adjusting the structure to align with the size of the operation. When established, all deployed programs are managed under the AmeriCorps Incident Command Team (ACT).

  • A-DRTs are trained in disaster services functions to include ICS 100/200/300; NIMs 700/800; EMT; CPR/First Aid; Volunteer and Donations Management; Mass Care/Family Services; Shelter Operations; OSHA certified Chainsaw Training; Hazmat certification. 
  • Can deploy under very short notice, within hours in some cases.
  • Ability to deploy, serve, and subsist under harsh conditions with little infrastructure; can be self-sufficient in early disaster response to house and feed independently; bring own tools and vehicles.

Capabilities

Individual Assistance Distribution of Life-Sustaining Supplies; Support for Mass Care: Sheltering; Feeding; Health and Wellness Checks; Mucking and Gutting; Debris clean-up; Emergency Roof Tarping; Emergency Home Repair; Mold Suppression; Hazard Tree Removal/Chainsaw; Minor home repair. Public Assistance Critical Debris Removal; Flood Fighting (Sandbagging, etc.); Dispatch and Tracking of Donated Equipment; Park and Public Lands Restoration.

Volunteer and Donations Management Volunteer Reception Center: Establish and Manage Operations; Database Management (homeowner intake and volunteers); Damage assessments; Track Volunteer Hours (can be used for State soft match); Field Leadership for Volunteer Engagement: Deliver training in safety and tasks; Support volunteer housing/logistics; Warehousing Support; Points of Distribution (PODs), and Donations Tracking.

Community Outreach Damage and Other Needs Assessment; Support to 2-1-1 or Other Call Centers; Client Intake and Tracking; Public Situational Awareness; Case Management; Support for Multi Agency Resource Centers (MARCs); Transportation; Staffing for Staging Areas and Logistics; Canvassing. Capacity Building Support to Emergency Management; Support to Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs), Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COADs), and Long-Term Recovery Committees (LTRCs); Inter-agency Facilitation; Surge Capacity for Staffing; Support for Emergency Farm and Animal Care.

A-DRT Programs

American Conservation Experience Conservation Corps North Carolina (Conservation Legacy) Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Taos, New Mexico
AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) Conservation Trust for North Carolina Serve Kentucky
AmeriCorps St. Louis ERT/Safety Corps Florida Conservation Corps Serve Wisconsin
Appalachian Conservation Corps (Conservation Legacy) Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service (Volunteer Iowa) Southwest Conservation Corps (Conservation Legacy)    
Arizona Conservation Corps (Conservation Legacy) Louisiana Conservation Corps (American YouthWorks) Texas Conservation Corps (American YouthWorks)
California Conservation Corps Montana Conservation Corps Utah Conservation Corps
Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa  Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Steamboat Springs, Colorado Washington Conservation Corps
Conservation Corps New Mexico (Conservation Legacy) SBP Southeast Conservation Corps

Are you a current AmeriCorps grantee? Check out Disaster Services Unit resources designed for you.

Online Courses

Performance Measures and Sample Documents

Disaster Service Performance Measures (PDF) 

Disaster Service Performance Measures (Video)

Sample Language for State Service Commissions Engaged in Disaster Services

This collection of documents from the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service (ICVS) is intended to help state commissions write language/agreements with their AmeriCorps programs to engage in disaster-related activities. Includes: