Being personally prepared for an emergency is only part of the solution.  Research has demonstrated that community connections, social capital - FRIENDS are key to speeding disaster recovery. The more diverse our friendships, the better! You don't even need to talk about disasters, just getting to know the people involved in the many communities you are part of, is the best way to build your disaster resilience. Neighbors are a great place to start. Think about ways you can connect with those who live nearby. Even small gestures of kindness can create wonderful results.

Think about your family and how different you all are. Neighbors are like family...you ended up together and finding ways to help and support each other can make a big difference when it matters most. 

Getting involved also includes building your skills. There are many ways to contribute to disaster response efforts. We have included a few organizations below. However, if you want to speak with someone about how to get involved and brainstorm ways to build your social capital, feel free to contact Alice.busch@multco.us 

Community Emergency Response Teams 

(CERT/NET in the Portland Metro Area)

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

To find out more information about CERT or NET training in Portland and Multnomah County, visit the City of Portland's NET Training website or the Citizen Corps website

Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) and Citizen Patrol 

Our Citizen Patrol members are assigned to the Columbia River Gorge national scenic area.  This area is visited by over a million tourists each year.  Unfortunately, many of these tourists are victims of car break-ins and theft.  The Citizen Patrol members patrol the area parking lots and trail heads to identify potential problems and to deter crime.  

To learn more about the Multnomah County Sheriff's Citizen Patrol Program, contact Deputy Joe Graziano at joseph.graziano@mcso.us.

Medical Reserve Corps

The Medical Reserve Corps is a voluntary unit of licensed and certified healthcare providers that will assist Multnomah County Health Department in the health and medical response during large scale public health emergencies.

To learn more about the Multnomah County Medical Reserve Corps, contact: mrc@multco.us.  Application materials can be found at the Multnomah County Medical Reserve Corps website.  

Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD)

Community organizations partnering to meet the unmet needs of the community during a disaster.  These organizations include: faith-based, community-based organizations (CBO), private, and non-governmental organizations (NGO).  

Information for the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) state-wide in Oregon and Washington, and nation-wide across the United States can be found at:

Oregon - www.orvoad.org

Washington - www.wavoad.org

National - www.nvoad.org

American Red Cross - Cascades Region

The American Red Cross provides free emergency preparedness education to the community, trains volunteers to respond to local and national disasters and provides victims of disaster with shelter, food, crisis counseling and recovery planning.  

Map Your Neighborhood (MYN)

Map Your Neighborhood is a neighborhood-based program that encourages and teaches emergency preparedness, hazard mitigation and priority actions in an emergency or disaster situation.  MYN will help you and your neighbors better prepare for disasters using a step-by-step process that identifies skills, equipment and resources in your neighborhood and work as a team during a disaster.  

To learn more about Map Your Neighborhood, visit the Washington Military Department's Emergency Management Division website.  The website includes an introduction to the MYN program, instructions on how to organize an MYN team, and resources for download.  

For additional information about the MYN program:

To order any publications or for training, contact Alice.busch@multco.us 503-988-6552

Other Volunteer Opportunities

Many of the community, non-governmental and faith-based organizations in your community rely on volunteers for their regular services as well as services they provide during an disaster.  Here are some local organizations that you can contact about becoming a volunteer:

Oregon Food Bank

The Oregon Food Bank works with a cooperative network of regional food banks, partner agencies and programs to distribute emergency food to hungry families.  Individuals, families and groups are encouraged to volunteer and persons of all ages are welcome.  To volunteer, use the above link to sign up online or call 503.282.0555.  The local Oregon Food Bank is located at 7900 NE 33rd Drive, Portland, OR 97211.

Loaves & Fishes and Meals-On-Wheels

The non-profit organization Loaves & Fishes makes 4,000 meals a day, five days a week and delivers them to 22 senior centers and ethnic meal sites throughout Multnomah and eastern Washington Counties, as well as to frail, homebound seniors through the Meals-On-Wheels service.  

Loaves & Fishes online volunteer signup or call 503.736.6325

Volunteers wearing hard hats and vests practice carrying a fake victim
Photo Courtesy of Citizen Corps/CERT