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Whenever and wherever disasters strike, destruction and confusion trail in their wake. AmeriCorps and national service members trained in disaster response are proving to be a valuable and cost-efficient resource for America as they help victims and survivors begin to rebuild their lives.

AmeriCorps member help with a clean-up at New York's Rockaway Beach

As part of AmeriCorps Week, we put the spotlight on how national service works for communities hit by disasters.

By forming relationships with local, state, and national leaders, AmeriCorps and national service are able to expand the capacity of emergency and community programs that make a difference when disasters happen. The latest example followed the devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy across parts of the Northeastern United States.

Under the leadership of our Disaster Services Unit, more than 2,400 AmeriCorps members from programs across the nation participated in the federal response to Hurricane Sandy, including the first class of AmeriCorps NCCC members serving with FEMA Corps. These AmeriCorps members mucked and gutted more than 2,000 homes in New York and New Jersey, and they mobilized 16,000 volunteers in New York for 128,000 hours of service, valued at $2.68 million.

AmeriCorps members paint the Hammel House Community Center in Far Rockaway, NY on March 16, 2013. (Corporation for National and Community Service Photo)On Saturday, March 16, more than 200 AmeriCorps members converged in Rockaway, NY, to remove 420 bags of debris from damaged beach, repair a daycare center, and help area residents get back on their feet. Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer, Director of AmeriCorps Bill Basl, AmeriCorps NCCC Director Kate Raftery and representatives from local partners New York Cares and New Yorkers Volunteer joined the effort.

“The collective work of AmeriCorps members constitutes an invaluable national resource,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, wrote in a letter marking AmeriCorps Week. “It is my hope that your professionalism and dedication inspire others to take part in actions large and small, public and private to help communities not just recover, but thrive.”

“AmeriCorps members have provided invaluable support to citizens and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy and other disasters,” said Basl. “They've made substantial progress in New York and other affected areas, and there's more work to be done. Americans know they can count on national service members before, during, and after a disaster.”

The work in New York builds on the AmeriCorps efforts in disasters. You can see another example of national service in action in the video below, which highlights the response to an F-4 tornado that struck Yazoo City, MS, in 2010.