FEMA, AmeriCorps team up to bolster disaster recovery force

Tuesday - 3/20/2012, 11:11am EDT

Rich Serino, deputy administrator, FEMA

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency is adding 1,600 people to its disaster-recovery force. It's teaming up with AmeriCorps to form a standby group of workers it can call up at a moment's notice to help after disasters.

"These are young people between the ages of 18 and 24," said Rich Serino, FEMA's deputy administrator. "They're going to be devoted solely to disaster preparedness and response and also our long-term and recovery efforts."

Rich Serino, deputy administrator, FEMA (FEMA photo)

Serino told The Federal Drive with Tom Temin that the ServiceCorps members won't replace FEMA's disaster personnel. Instead, they'll be an additional workforce to supplement and support FEMA's current disaster and support workforce.

"Last year, we saw one of the busiest years we ever had at FEMA," Serino said. "There were over 14, $1 billion disasters across the country."

FEMA was looking for ways to respond to these disasters and to provide opportunities for young people to consider emergency management as a possible career.

By volunteering with AmeriCorps, young people would receive a small stipend. After completing a 10-month commitment, they would be eligible to receive additional funds to help pay for college.

When disaster strikes, the AmeriCorps volunteers will contribute in a variety of ways, from providing community relations to assisting victims to serving in disaster recovery centers. They'll act as disaster reservists to help communities recover after a disaster.

"They'll receive their training through AmeriCorps, one of their five campuses, and that training will be supplemented with additional training from FEMA," Serino said.

This isn't FEMA's first time working with AmeriCorps volunteers. "In Joplin, Miss., after the tornados there, AmeriCorps helped with organizing the volunteers," Serino said. "But this is going to give us that full-time workforce that will be able to respond out to disasters."

Those who want to learn more about the program can visit www.fema.gov. or www.americorps.gov.

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