Recent Winter Storms Highlight the Need for Trained and Capable Disaster Workers
Jackson, MS (February 18, 2014) - The most recent winter storms to move across the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi division (ALM) highlighted deficiencies within the emergency disaster services department (EDS). Whenever disasters strike areas like the ALM division, there may be three active state emergency operations centers in play. For ALM, these locations are far away from each other, but require a Salvation Army representative to be present there to address requests from other agencies that come in to the center. This liaison role within each state’s emergency operations center is vital, and divisional EDS personnel found that they do not have enough qualified individuals to staff these positions.
The Salvation Army EDS liaison acts as the information gatekeeper, and helps with the flow of information from the state level down to the local field level. During any disaster, the liaison might be interacting with a government official one minute and with a partner voluntary organization the next. Based largely on the size of the event, the liaison may be hit with multiple requests for service, and questions about Salvation Army capabilities and response. According to ALM Interagency Liaison, Bill Feist, “It sometimes requires a bit of magic to help move all the pieces of information along to the right place.”
The ALM division has recently experienced a shortage of trained liaisons to staff the state EOC’s. Through staff changes, and a retirement, and quickly found themselves in need of a new crop of disaster liaisons. ALM did not have to look far for these new liaisons. During the most recent series of storms, the ALM division assigned two brand new liaisons to its state EOC’s, Britney Williams out of Jackson, MS and Cory Ranczka, from Dale County, AL.
Covering Mississippi, Britney Williams began her time with the EDS department as a student intern. Ms. Williams studied emergency management during her time at Jackson State before graduating this past December. Britney is currently working on her Master’s degree in Public Policy, but she also works as the Administrative Clerk at The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Center, in Jackson, MS.
Responsible for the state EOC in Alabama during this last storm, Cory Ranczka works as The Salvation Army Store Manager in Dale County, AL. Cory began his time with The Salvation Army while in High School, serving as a volunteer. According to Bill Feist, “Cory is a wonderful young man who represents The Salvation Army and our disaster services well.”
The Salvation Army is blessed to have such qualified young people in our ranks. The Emergency Disaster Services of The Salvation Army are in good hands for any upcoming disaster events. If you are interested in learning more about the opportunities for service with The Salvation Army, check out our website at: www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.