VOAD reactivates, offers computer lab to help with disaster assistance applications

Sarah Einselen Editor, Gainesville Daily Register, Texas
·2 min read

Feb. 26—Need help to file an online disaster assistance application after last week's snow and bitter cold? Have plumbing skills and want to pitch in? Cooke County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is offering help and seeking trades workers and other volunteers for recovery efforts.

Cooke County VOAD has reactivated in response to the recent North Texas snowstorms. The board decided Wednesday, Feb. 24, to set up an office space at VISTO where people can go apply for assistance, according to a press release from the coalition.

Starting March 3, VISTO will offer a computer lab and hands-on volunteer support for those who need assistance with technology and forms. VOAD has arranged for volunteers to answer the phones, help community members complete the online applications for available resources, review and give estimates on property damage and help fix and repair damage at the cost of supplies. VISTO, which stands for Volunteers In Service To Others, is at 1305 N. Culberson St. and its computer lab and other resources will be available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays.

Any voluntary organization looking to get involved is invited to join VOAD. Those looking to help volunteer can also get in touch. Anyone in the trades services who would like to offer their services may also volunteer. Parts, supplies and permit fees will be covered.

Volunteers do not necessarily need to be licensed tradespeople to help with plumbing tasks or other needs, according to Cooke County United Way Executive Director Andrea Grangruth. CCUW is one of the participating organizations in the Cooke County VOAD.

"We encourage anyone with the skills to help," Grangruth said. Plumbing repairs that don't require a permit can be done by someone who's not a licensed plumber, she said.

Donations to help replace damaged items are also being accepted. Call 940-665-8505 or email VOADCC@gmail.com if you are interested in any volunteer or donor opportunities.

VOAD is designed to unite and activate after an announced state of emergency or post-catastrophic event. The coalition's purpose is to help people navigate through the tools and resources that are established, such as federal, state and local funding, as well as offer the local support and services that have been collected.

The coalition expressed its thanks to those who have already made donations and volunteer contributions, including Atmos Energy, Coserv Energy, Nortex Communications, the Salvation Army and several private donors.

This is the second time in a year that VOAD activated after a hiatus of several years. In mid-April 2020, the coalition activated in response to the pandemic, the first time the organization had activated since flooding in the county in 2015.

The organization serves as a forum for members and partnering organizations to share information and resources throughout disasters, from preparation and response to recovery and mitigation.