CrowdSource Rescue is an excellent resource that connects people in need with volunteer organizations such as ourselves. Geaux Rescue has utilized this wonderful resource in Hurricanes Irma, Florence and Michael and encourages those who are affected by natural disasters to do so as well. If we are not deployed in your area of need, other vetted volunteer groups are able to view your request and arrange the help you need.
The following are tips that we have put together from first hand experience. If your local officials have ordered an evacuation, do so! We do not advocate ignoring evacuation orders.
- CALL 911 FIRST for emergencies, 211 for non-emergencies and 511 for road conditions.
- If you plan on staying know that if you have to be evacuated you may not be able to take your pets due to many shelters do not allow pets.
- If you are evacuated, have a plan on whether a family member can pick you up or if you will utilize a shelter.
- If you plan on staying secure a ladder to the side of your house next to a vented dormer in case you need access to your roof. An axe will not get you out.
- If you have to leave your pets and you have inside access to your attic, lower the ladder and place food and water in the attic.
- Your family's (husband, wife and children) lives are more important than your animals.
- DO NOT put important paperwork in your dishwasher, take them with you.
- VERY Important: If you evacuate, use a paint pen and write on your door evacuated!!! This will keep first responders from wasting time on houses that are empty.
- Any volunteer group CANNOT force you to leave your house!!! Just because they wear outfits that look official does not mean they are official. Get the name of their group and their names. If it becomes harassment contact your local authorities.
A few tips on performing rescues, welfare checks and any type of natural disaster assistance:
- Have a plan and at least two back up plans.
- FEMA or any other agency will NOT provide fuel. Bring your own fuel and make sure you know how far the closest gas station is.
- Make sure you mark the last place you had cell service in case you need it later.
- YOU WILL HIT ROAD BLOCKS. If you are not allowed access, do not argue or try and convince law enforcement you are Superman. Thank them for their service and reroute. They have had a dozens of other groups try and gain access. They are not allowing you in because of safety issues.
- Take in your own food and water. Shelters and food distribution sites are for those displaced. If you need to eat, ask permission first.
- Have a game plan on where you are going to sleep. Many times it will be in the vehicle you are driving. IF and that's a big IF you are allowed to sleep where official first responders are staged that's the best but least likely location. Find a Lowes, Wal-Mart or other major store outside the area that has power and WiFi. Let the manager know what you are doing and ask if security can keep an eye on you while you rest.
- If you can, carry some supplies with you (I.e. water, MREs and toilet paper).
- As a volunteer you have no authority to forcibly suggest or remove anyone from their home. If someone is in immediate danger, contact the local authorities. You also do not have the authority to kick someone's door in unless you hear someone inside screaming for help. The only one that can give you permission to enter a house is the person that lives there. Not a family member hundreds of miles away.
- If you are inclined to do animal rescues please research what is legal in that area. If you do remove animals leave a note on the door, in the mail box and/or somewhere else stating your name, address, phone number and where you took their pet. Many people evacuate to shelters and hotels and are unable to take their pets along. A lot of shelters do not accept pets. I would hope that parents choose their children's safety over their pets.
- BE SAFE! If you get hurt, burnt out or emotionally drained you are no good to anyone. We all want to help as much as we can. I have finally realized that I need to step away for a few days to regroup and to work on me. Trust me, natural disasters of this magnitude will have a need for help for months if not years. Many volunteers go home and never look back after a few days.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY especially if you are going to be a part of or assist Geaux Rescue, leave a good impression. Be respectful to those you are rescuing, the local law enforcement and anyone else you come in contact with. We WILL NOT tolerate anyone being disrespectful. We are all here to help out those in need and want to do the right thing in the right way!