2019 Deployment: Tropical Storm Imelda

Cleaning Up the Chaos

Driving through the flatlands just north of Beaumont, Texas, a lone volunteer behind the wheel of a pickup hauling a horse trailer loaded with supplies caught some of the first glimpses of how eye-opening Imelda really was.

“People were not prepared,” said CAC volunteer Daniel Jarvis, who made one of four emergency supply drops during the deployment. “It was remarkable. They’ve been flooded multiple times in the last couple of years and yet… there was no one on the ground who had a good grasp of ‘this is what needs to happen, this is how we need to go about it.’ ’”

Jarvis noticed stockpiles of furniture outside of homes, some people actively moving belongings, and others still reeling in the wake of Tropical Storm Imelda. As a volunteer for Citizens Assisting Citizens, Jarvis answered the call to get boots on the ground for the aid efforts along with two other new CAC volunteers, Triple Kocurek and Micky Frank. Each made critical deliveries for an entire community all but forgotten by mainstream media.

Jarvis wasn’t alone in his journey. Behind the scenes, Citizens Assisting Citizens volunteers watched closely and cleared his path. As Jarvis collected supplies for the trip from Houston, many people asked why he was buying so many cleaning supplies and buckets. Since the storm didn’t hit the Houston area as bad, few were aware of the need just a few miles away. “It’s like a lot of things: I guess, if it doesn’t affect you or someone you know, you just don’t care,” he said.

Some areas of SE Texas were barely impacted, but other areas were hit hard. Imelda’s slow-moving, yet heavy downpour proved the fourth wettest tropical storm on record in Texas, second only to Hurricane Harvey, within the last four decades. While the high winds dropped quickly upon landfall, the storm still brought an extreme amount of rain very quickly. Imelda dumped 43.15” of precipitation – 10” higher than the average countertop – within 36 hours in some areas. The Beaumont, TX region was hit the hardest.

However, with few options for photo ops, the event received little coverage compared to Hurricane Harvey back in 2017. The slow, steady impact of the storm and lack of media coverage submerged the damage reports. Five deaths were reported, and property damages are anticipated at nearly $1 billion or more – the greatest economic loss sustained from natural disasters in mainland United States to date for 2019. It was an epic deluge.

Prior to the event, CAC kept a close eye on the storm. It had the potential to be a sleeper storm and was right on the heels of Hurricane Dorian in the Gulf of Mexico, an already intense time for the CAC Intel Team and senior CAC leaders. As Imelda made landfall and got downgraded to a tropical storm, the question of deploying volunteers was yet to be confirmed.

“Our ability to act relies on national and local Intel, financial resources, and the availability of both remote and local Volunteers. Without those 3 pieces in place, actions would not be possible OR safe.” Said Joshua Sloan, who assisted in the CAC Imelda Deployment. “Luckily, because of our Donors, and strict fiscal discipline, the finance piece was figured out before the storm. It was a known variable.”

CAC is not the kind of organization that just writes a check and walks away. In order to deploy, CAC’s mission requires local involvement, from local volunteers. Word went out quickly by email and phone to rally support on the ground.

“Because of prior volunteer contact lists from Hurricanes Harvey, Florence and Michael, we had most all of our remote Volunteer Team assembled prior to the storm. Only the local and regional contacts had to be made and coordinated. And we had to make sure they could operate safely.” Sloan said.

According to Erin Martin, Executive Director, CAC was prepared to spend a minimum of $8,500 prior to the Deployment.

“We know before a Deployment how much budget we can spend, but we also add to that any new donations that come in during the Deployment and its missions,” said Martin. “The success of our first-ever pledge drive in 2019, ensured that we had the funds available to act quickly.”

Damage Report

When reports from intel on the ground started to roll in, the team realized how much damage had really occurred. On Sept. 20, CAC volunteers received an activation alert to be ready for deployment and coordination efforts. The team secured a quick $500 for an initial supply drop, then began coordinating additional drop locations while rallying support on the ground.

“The hurt here is very significant,” said Vernon Pierce, of the Jefferson County Long-Term Recovery team. “FEMA has counted 5,448 homes in the county who received water, many of these homes were also flooded during Harvey.”

Local churches and distribution points had plenty of food and clothing supplies – but lacked the supplies desperately needed by the communities impacted during the storm. Low-lying stagnant ponds and fields contaminated with chemicals and animal waste combined with rising water levels and pushed contaminants inside homes, creating a major sanitation risk. An immediate need for cleanup kits surfaced as floodwaters receded.

Behind the scenes, Citizens Assisting Citizens volunteers from around the country started loading up virtual shopping carts with components for clean-up kits and additional supplies such as box fans, push brooms and scoop shovels. Meanwhile, a few key volunteers were ready to roll in Texas and Louisiana to help gather supplies on the ground and make the much-needed deliveries a reality. Logistic team volunteers with CAC had eyes in the sky and routed travel away from one main route on I-10 because of a road closure related to a bridge damaged by a barge that had broken loose and caused significant damage.

Bringing it Home

CAC supply drops became an immediate help for local residents. The multiple drops at multiple locations served communities surrounding the Beaumont area. These included the Winnie Chrysler-Dodge Dealership, Fannett Fire Department, Nome Fire Department, and First Christian Church in Beaumont.

With the help of the Jefferson County Long Term Recovery Center, Director Vernon Pierce, CAC’s drops proved to be some of the first supplies available to victims of the storm. CAC volunteers were able to provide aid where entities like FEMA, the Salvation Army, the National Guard and the Red Cross were still mounting response efforts or waiting on federal storm declaration approvals to mobilize.

In all, several CAC volunteers from Texas and Louisiana made four different supply runs. The first was to get supplies into a small community in Winnie, TX, where the sheriff’s department shut down access to the public long before a national emergency was declared. A few nearby areas less affected set up informal supply locations on the outskirts of communities hit the hardest. One such location was Beach City, TX. The locals there knew all the backroads and were  able to get past barricades. This is where Citizens Assisting Citizens made its first local distribution contact, a car dealer in Winnie, Texas.

The First Wave

Triple Kocurek, a long-time CAC volunteer who was working a few miles north of the affected region, took Tuesday afternoon off of work to lend a hand and get an initial round of supplies to a small community in Winnie, TX. With the help of a few locals and Winnie Chrysler-Dodge, a car lot which had become a regional drop point, he was able to get much needed supplies into the hands of the owners of the auto dealership who lived in Beach City, TX. This was his first CAC supply drop. Affected residents were receiving local aid from this dealership very early on. “There was nothing out there,” said Kocurek. “No Federal or State agencies. It was all local small local groups pulling together.”

Kocurek said locals were ecstatic to receive the aid and they banded together to combine food and resources until additional support arrived. CAC was able to provide 12 complete cleanup kits and several box fans for the community of about 50 homes in the region during the first run.

Looking back on the event, Kocurek emphasized the importance of stepping up as a volunteer when neighbors are in need. Kocurek understood the mission and vision of Citizens Assisting Citizens.

“If nobody volunteers, then who’s going to show up when you need help?” he said. “That’s something that everybody forgets about.”

The Second Wave

By Wednesday, almost a week after the storm made landfall, much of the floodwaters pulled back and signs of repairs were underway. However, the bulk of Federal aid was yet to be seen. Daniel Jarvis signed up as a CAC volunteer to help out, took the day off of work and got behind the wheel to deliver goods more than 60 miles away from his own home. He noticed several homes with contractor bags of flood waste and cabinets or furniture staged outside homes as he drove with his delivery of 50 additional cleanup kits.

When he arrived at his destination in Nome, 42 buckets rushed out the door within the first two hours, and the remaining supplies were gone by 9 a.m. the next morning.

“Everyone in town was waiting for that help to arrive,” said Cindy Hood, Alderman with the Nome, TX City Council. “We are so appreciative for organizations like you. What a blessing you were to the community.”

By the end of the second shop-and-drop deployment, it became clear that more help would be needed. A stretch funding goal of $1,500 allowed for additional supplies and additional mobilizations by CAC volunteers.

The Last Push

“With a rallying cry by our Social Media Team, we were able to add an additional $1,500 to our Deployment budget,” said Erin Martin. This allowed CAC to do its 4th and final emergency supply drop.

Soon after the drop in Nome, stretch goal funding brought the total aid funds to $10,000 which allowed for a third emergency supply drop by Louisiana CAC volunteer Micky Franks on the 26th, where he recruited a neighbor, and a fourth supply drop on the 27th where he was aided by his wife, son and the family dog. By the time CAC volunteers made their third run, National Guard troops were just beginning to hand out food and water rations to residents in Beaumont.

Generous donations and merchant discount from Texas big box hardware stores, allowed CAC volunteers to gather materials and provide cleanup kits and extra cleanup equipment for more than 250 families. This aid was distributed by carefully chosen distribution partners on the ground.

“You guys were fantastic,” Said Vernon Pierce from the Jefferson County Long-Term Recovery team. “Your donation meant a lot for a lot of people.”

By the Numbers:

Volunteer Hours tracked 428 hours between 9.15.19 and 9.30.19

~$800 merchant discounts
250 emergency cleaning kits
25 fans delivered
25 Scoop shovels
250 families served
5 Days pre-planning
4 Coordinated supply drop missions
4 Active delivery days
$9,000+ dollars spent
18 Active volunteers (Remote + Local)
12 New volunteers
1000+ social media reach

Post-Flooding Preparedness:

CAC volunteers are always needed behind the scenes to help support efforts year-round. If you’d like to join as a volunteer, sign up now, or lend your support through a donation! Regardless of your location, it’s critical that every citizen takes preparedness in their own hands.

“Our vision as an organization is that everyone will be prepared for whatever. And there’s a huge amount of work to be done for that,” [Bryan Caldwell]

The greatest needs during this deployment were volunteer boots on the ground, and clean-up kits. You can take action by being more prepared or volunteering to help others in need. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes or flooding, be sure to keep a clean-up kit on hand like the ones distributed during Imelda by CAC Team Volunteers!

Build Your Own Clean-Up Kit For Flood Aftermath Cleanup:

  • 5-Gallon Bucket (With Lid)
  • Pine Sol
  • Sponges
  • Scrub brushes
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Contractor Grade Trash Bags
  • Nitrile-dipped Work Gloves
  • Handi-Wipes
  • 28-oz. Dishwashing Liquid
  • Disposable ¼-Face Masks
  • Bleach

While every disaster is different, during Imelda supplies were acquired in a 100 mile radius and hand delivered to drop points. However, for organizations and individuals who want to create their own cleaning kits, you can read about the CAC team’s Amazon Disaster Supply shopping lists here.

Special Thanks:

Jefferson County Long Term Recovery Center
Winnie Chrysler-Dodge Dealership
Fannett Fire Department
Nome Fire Department
First Christian Church in Beaumont.

Imelda Fact Resource/reference links:

Imelda Photo Gallery

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Imelda Flooding Activation Notice

ACTIVATION ALERT – This is to inform you that we have begun to deploy financial and volunteer resources in response to the flooding from Imelda.

To avoid confusion, here are some terms you are likely to hear from Citizens Assisting Citizens.

Activation = BE READY, BE PREPARED, in case you can help! We are in Activation mode right now. What can yo do?

  1. Sign up as a General Volunteer, then pick specific activities you think you can help with, For example there are several activities that can be done remotely. If you have already have a created a profile in our volunteer portal, you should look through open positions and activities which interest you. Some activities are local on-the-ground, others are remote.
  2. Watch your email inbox and listen for phone calls we might make to you. If you are near the affected area, we’ll want to know if you are OK and see if you need help or can be a helper.
  3. Share any resources on as these are public. They can be accessed and shared by anyone to anyone, whether they are involved with CAC or not.
  4. Follow us on Social Media and Share and like stories which are posted.
  5. Donate.

Deployment = Deployment happens when we know that we:

  • have both human and physical resources, and the
  • safe locations for these resources to be stored and distributed from during our activities – AND
  • identified locations we believe we can safely deliver aid to.

Stand Down = When an Activation or Deployment comes to an end.

Although this Activation Alert is no guarantee that we will be able to deploy, it allows us to begin preparing personnel, finances, intel and physical assets we know we will need.

Thanks for your past and future help – YOU make everything we do possible.


Erin Martin, Executive Director
& The Entire CAC Team

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A Token of Appreciation…

When the Chips were Down for Others, You Stood Up!

As a token of our appreciation, CAC has created custom Deployment Tokens (clay poker chips). We are sending these to those volunteers who were able to help in our last 3 Deployments (Harvey, Florence, Michael).  These volunteers lent a hand in various roles, both local and remote.  When the chips were down for others, these volunteers took time out of their own lives to help others. And that’s the real deal. We’re willing to bet that these commemorative Deployment Tokens will serve as a reminder of the lives they touched in a time of crisis. To all our volunteers, THANK YOU.

Recipients should receive their tokens of appreciation before Christmas. We look forward to this ongoing tradition!

Not yet volunteered? Ready to go all-in?  Volunteer Here.

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2018 Deployment: Hurricane Michael


Active from: Oct 10 To Oct 28
Areas of activity: Freeport, Niceville and surrounding areas in Florida’s panhandle
Partner organizations: Generations United Church in Niceville, FL, Grace Lutheran of Surgis, MI,
Deployment activities: Hygiene kits, cleaning kits, ice and fuel for ATVs running supplies from Generations Church to scattered and rural homes in need
Amount spent: $6,492.32

Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach in the Florida Panhandle late in the afternoon of Wednesday October 10, 2018 as a Category 4 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155 MPH.  It was the strongest storm to make landfall in the continental U.S since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Michael claimed the lives of 36 people, 26 of them in Florida and caused billions of dollars in damages across Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina.

Despite our depleted financial resources after our deployment to assist with Hurricane Florence, our CAC team began organizing our response to the storm on the evening of October 10, 2018.  Our first action was to send an email to everyone in our mailing list informing them that we were activating for a response and reminding everyone how to donate, sign up to volunteer or follow our efforts on Zello. Our remote volunteers then began working the phones, calling our Volunteer and Safe Haven sign ups in the surrounding area to see what they could do to assist.

We found our Safe Haven, which turned into a secure storage and staging area for supplies, at the home of Molly and Dave Davis. The Davis’ were just outside of the affected area and had many contacts within the community and were aware of many who needed assistance.  Our remote Volunteers went back to the phones to find areas of need which we might be able to service. Using lists created by our remote Tech Team, our Volunteers called numerous churches in the area to find out where we could help. Only ONE call was returned. Pastor Phil Daniels of Generations United Church in Niceville, FL responded to let us know that they were organizing supply runs into the area for the coming week and could use whatever assistance we could provide. As often happens during our relief efforts, our Safe Haven Volunteers knew this church well, both the Pastor and many of the church members. In the end, though we had found some additional drop-off points, this one partner turned out to be ideal for us. They were serving the areas not serviced by FEMA and the Red Cross and were going into areas that our limited number of volunteers could not reach as easily.

We now had our mission and put our remote Volunteers to work organizing supply orders. On our limited budget of $5,000, plus whatever additional donations flowed in while we were active (approximately $2,600 came in), we ordered and shipped to our staging area, enough supplies to produce 144 Hygiene Kits, 288 Meals and 35 Cleaning Kits as well as baby supplies (food, wipes, diapers etc.) and feminine hygiene products. The Davis’ organized a “Kittogether” party and pulled together local friends to help organize the supplies and prepare the kits for distribution. Some of those supplies were retained for “hyper-local” use by our Volunteers, and the remaining were provided to Generations United Church for direct distribution. The Church organized a group of 30 plus volunteers on 4-wheelers, that we dubbed the 4-Wheeler Brigade to ferry the supplies out to people in the rural areas whose roads or driveways were unpassable. CAC gladly provided $500 in Gift Cards for gasoline to support this ongoing effort.

The Davis’s also referred Denise Lassiter, a chainsaw workaholic who assisted the Davis’s in the Southport area with getting trees cut so people could leave their property. Denise was constantly helping people because her work had closed due to storm damage. Denise then provided us with information about an elderly couple in Calloway who needed a Wellness Check. Denise also continued to provided some excellent on the ground intel and updates to us.

Geralbin “JJ” Vinas, his partner and father were a small team from Tampa who started driving to Panama City before he even knew about CAC. A friend (a listener of The Survival Podcast), suggested he hook up with CAC, and he found us on our CAC Team Zello Channel. Luckily, we had our Safe Haven picked out! Team JJ was able to do some reconnaissance and with CAC’s help purchased a couple bags of groceries to deliver to the elderly couple in Calloway. Their team was only able to help for 2 days, but their presence was appreciated and they were so happy to have had the experience and to increase their awareness of the value of preparedness.

So Molly led us to Denise, who led us to her good friend Krista Youngberg. Krista had already started to organize her neighbors to provide free food tents in Youngstown, FL. Another one woman dynamo with great social capital. There was not a lot we could do, but we knew we wanted to be a part of Team Krista’s activities. We were able to help with the acquisition of enough ice to fill 40 coolers and some additional funds to help with misc. food tent items. Team Krista was able to feed over 2,000 people during several separate Free Food days.

Molly led us to Denise, Denise led us to Krista, and finally, Krista led us to another powerhouse of a volunteer, Peggy Davis (no relation to Molly and Dave) who also lived nearby Krista and Molly. From Peg, we learned that in her hometown of Sturgis, MI, the Grace Lutheran Church was gathering donations to fill a U-Haul truck to ship supplies into the area – even before they had a secure storage and drop off location. CAC had that covered! So one of our remote workers made direct contact to let them know we could secure and distribute any items they collected. Additionally, CAC had shared supply needs reports to Peg who gave them to the church, so the goods they sent down were excellent and appropriate. But that is not where the synchronicity stopped.

Our remote phone volunteers once again went to work, to contact our people in and around Michigan and unbelievably we found that we had a Volunteer named David Mosher, who LIVES in Sturgis, MI. Weird right? We reached out to him and he was happy to help. He also recruited a couple of buddies to help with the shopping and delivery of goods to the church. We provided David with a budget, and he and his friends went out and purchased additional supplies to help fill the truck. We arranged for the supplies to be delivered to our staging area, where local volunteers came together again to organize those supplies (Kittogether #2!) for distribution.

Peg, also had a contact at Magna Manufacturing, makers of the Loboy heavy-duty styrofoam coolers. After CAC spoke with the employee Kenny Watkins, we were able to get a donation of 198 styrofoam coolers (an important item in an area with no power!) and dozens of foam cushions which they could not use, but which could make great seat cushions or pillows to those in tents or trailers.

Kittogether #3 on 11/2/18 created 72 more cleaning kits, 47 more hygiene kits and 36 ladies purse/supplies kits were made. Purse kits? Yes. Peg and Molly got locals to donate over 30 ladies handbags into which they will be placing feminine products and items. The supplies from Sturgis, MI contained numerous purses, makeup and feminine supplies. They were a huge hit when given to female storm victims.

Additional food support activities were planned by “Team Krista” and Peg did another Kittogether where 163 MORE donated purses were filled by Peg, Molly and their local friends. These were primarily distributed by

There are so many more details, and too many people to thank, but a few other notable events include :

-Tina Allred helped make contact with LDS Stake Center in Panama City. Though we were not able to make deliveries this deep into the affected area, but volunteer Denise and JJ did do some reconnaissance around that area.

Bradley from Niceville Christian Church connected us with Randy at Tri-State Christian Camp in Defuniak Springs, a 100 bed camp.  Randy offered the camp as a Safe Haven for any Volunteers traveling into the area. We ended up not needing this, but it was a beautiful gesture!

A hotel in Defuniak Springs and one in Destin, FL both donated linens. Our local teams were able to coordinate picking them up and getting them to our storage area in Freeport and from there to our distribution partner at Generations United.

As absolutely amazing as our local volunteers and their friends were, there were several behind the scenes  accomplishments as well (forgive if I have forgotten any!).

  • A few new onboarding/training documents were created and shared via our website.
  • The Tech/Logisitics Team worked on managing forms, form submissions and new Intel gathering and mapping techniques. In fact, several Hurricane Resource Maps were created and shared publicly that got almost 160,000 views! See blog post:
  • Zello remained an effective communication tool during this deployment. Glympse was not as useful, only because we 1.) had mostly locals who knew the area fully, and b.) there were many areas without cell signal.
  • The photos submitted by volunteers were sent to (which also forwards to for use on our website and social media.
  • Social media updates seemed to go smoothly led primarily by a volunteer in Scotland!
  • Phone calls to identify volunteers and hotel/restaurant resources were done by a few volunteers.
  • Moderation of the Zello channel became more streamlined, meaning fewer people were needed to manage that communications channel.

Additionally, the CAC Finance Team gave regular updates on budget progress, and contacted every single  donor to acknowledge their donation. They also made sure the Magna Mfg. obtained and In Kind Donation acknowledgement for their tax records as well.

A big efficiency win with this deployment was the use of How did it happen? Read Here!

The lists of supplies CAC ordered was made public and shared so that other individuals and organizations could duplicate what we did – at any time! Mostly Prime products with fast free shipping, with decent reviews. Most were items used in previous deployments, or recommended during specific types/phases of this disaster. We openly shared the costs for these items on the Resources->Volunteer Resources area of our website so as to also inspire others who were not sure what could be useful during or after a natural disaster.

CAC Emergency Relief Supply Lists

Using Amazon meant less time spent by volunteers running around to find rapidly diminishing supplies and less time spent collecting receipts – a better use of time and money! Shipping in resources to the volunteers may prove to be a repeatable and efficient process for future deployments as well if conditions to do so exist.

The simple purchase authorization tracking sheet and and the reimbursement process, implemented during Hurricane Florence on the website was used to control expenses and improve budget tracking. The total deployment budget was updated daily, sometimes several times per day. Altogether, this was probably one of the smoothest deployments ever in terms of bookkeeping and accountability.

As with each Activation and Deployment, we always identify areas of success and areas where improvements are needed. Some areas of improvement we will be trying to address include:

  1. Intel gathering & funnelling at different mission stages should be streamlined
  2. “Chain of command” process still needs some improvement (job descriptions and organizational flow chart should be forthcoming.)
  3. Mission Logging and Data Display – notes that other crisis coordinators need to see and share.
  4. Volunteer management and onboarding (training)

So much true good was done. So many people local and non-local were inspired and helped than we could ever properly detail or thank. Regardless, we made the most with what we had and filled our core mission of empowering ordinary citizens to assist each other. This would not have been possible without donors and volunteers and partners of all types.

See All Hurricane Michael Photos Click Here.



Additional References:

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2018 Deployment: Hurricane Florence


Active from: Sept 8 to approx Sept 22
Areas of activity: Durham, Fayettesville, Clinton, Warsaw, Beulaville, Pollocksville and Chinquapin
Partner organizations: Cisco, City of Beulaville mayor, NC Baptists on Mission (Richard Weeks in Warsaw)
Deployment activities: Supplying hygiene kits, hotel linens, food, water, baby supplies, elder care supplies and cleaning kits
Amount spent: $14,745.22

Florence was our first major activation since Harvey in TX. Landfall was Wilmington, NC and due to the track it took and lack of volunteers able to deploy we weren’t able to get close to Wilmington with the exception of one volunteer who lived in Wilmington. We weren’t able to support him as we couldn’t get supplies in but he was a on the ground advising us of the area an conditions.

One  Survival Podcast listener, Michelle, works at Cisco and sent out an email to several Cisconians (a terms of endearment for employees of Cisco who assisted that I pulled from the Cisco website). One of those was Bethany Duffrin. Bethany then sent another email to even more people on her team and together they had many people who stated they were interested in volunteering.

Cisco is located in Durham and due to their number of hands, availability of supplies and distance from damage they immediately became our hub of operations. Bethany, being skilled in logistics, planning and exceedingly frugal, became our primary point of contact for almost all of our efforts in NC. She ensured that money was stretched as far as she could and coordinated supply pickups from many stores with many people and was an incredible asset for us.

Supplies were run from Durham to all or almost all of our partner organizations in several cities. This required volunteers driving, in some cases,  more than 2 hours to deliver supplies to the organization or city in need. An adult day care center was fully stocked with supplies., as were a shelter in Clinton and a church in Warsaw. We also sent supplies into other areas with incredible need.

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Hurricane Michael – CAC Experimental Maps Catch On

I have been thinking for many years about the importance of geo-spatial asset and threat mapping. Why? Because when there is an emergency, you can’t always count on having local contacts with 1st level knowledge of the situation or geography. When moving people or goods from afar, having some reference points (and their positions relevant to each other), as well as easy contact information, can be potentially life saving. So as a test, while learning about Google Crisis Maps, I stumbled upon Google My Maps, specifically custom Google May Maps. So I create 3 of them as an experiment. I thought maybe a few dozen CAC involved people might view them. I was wrong. The maps got over 150,000 views in less than 3 weeks.

Now I’ll probably never meet any of the people who saw these maps. I really have no idea why they were viewing them. But I’d like to believe that maybe, just maybe, this CAC experiment resulted in some small real-world help to real people. Completely unintentionally. Maybe they were displaced hurricane victims, volunteers/aid groups coming from out of town or out of state to help, or maybe a locals were running from store to store looking supplies or fuel. I’ll never know. But my journey with mapping tech to support Citizens Assisting Citizens is about to get kicked up a notch based on this experiment and a few others.

-Joshua Sloan

Here are the custom maps themselves:

Hurricane Michael Churches

Hurricane Michael Fuel Stations

Hurricane Michael Shopping & Resupply

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Amazon Delivers Relief

In the pursuit of ever more effective methods for getting emergency supplies to those affected by natural disaster, CAC has made several strides in the use of

CAC created and saved several Shopping Lists most of which are supplies we already use in most of the deployments we have done. Why is this important?  What are the advantages?

  • It is now faster and easier to place orders for ANYONE (including CAC) – No more wasting time looking for appropriate items
  • The man hours spent shopping are reduced. This saves fuel as well.
  • Pressure on local supply chain is reduced (let locals buy the local supplies)
  • Cost savings! Emergency Relief Supply Lists

144 (2 basic meals ea.) Emergency Meal Kits:
144 Hygiene Kits:
50 Household Cleaning Kits:
Baby Supplies Reorder List:
Feminine Hygiene Reorder List:
Fuel & Oil Supplies Reorder List:
Hardware & Misc Reorder List:
Laundry Reorder List:
Power & Energy Reorder List:

Of course using an outsourced supplier requires a few things to happen before CAC will choose this option.  For example, we must have:

  1. A secured (from weather and theft) storage location
  2. Local Volunteers to manage inventory
  3. Local Volunteers to aid with distribution
  4. There is time to receive and process shipments

Assuming those criteria are met, importing supplies will make a lot of sense!

Now anyone can create emergency/disaster kits using the same items as CAC. Shoppers can easily ship the selected supplies anywhere they want…to homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, crisis shelters, churches, etc.

What used to take a couple hours or even days should now take 20-30 minutes. Now that’s an efficiency gain. Share these shopping lists with preparedness and charitable organizations or individuals! Try ordering supplies and having a “Kittogether” just to see what it is like to produce these emergency kits.

It’s more fun that you might think and its a skill you can pass along.

BTW- Shoppers who use our AmazonSmiles link will also be helping CAC.  Win. Win.

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A Homeowners Guide to Catastrophic Insurance Claims and Recovery

Insurance was designed to move the risk of loss from the owner of property to a pool of owners that could sustain and support one another during a time of catastrophic loss. Historically, it began as a means for people to pool money together in the rare instance that one in the group would experience a loss they could not themselves cover.

Today, insurance is a multi-billion dollar industry that has become both necessary and often disliked by the consumer. Still, when a loss occurs, we have to turn to our investments in our insurance policies to attempt to make us “whole” again.

If you are or have experienced a catastrophic event such as hurricane, rain, wind, tornado, or fire damage chances are you need to submit a claim for both real and personal property. This task is daunting at best. It also comes at a time when you may be experiencing both physical and emotional trauma that can limit or greatly diminish your capacity to do and provide all the necessary information needed by your insurance provider so you can be appropriately compensated.

This is a shortened version of the before and after of a catastrophic event time line you may find helpful.

Before the event:

If you are fortunate enough to have some evacuation time, there are a few things you can do to make the insurance claims process easier on yourself and your agent/adjuster.

• Take pictures of each room in your house, with close ups of above average value items such as heirloom items, antique furniture, upper scale brand names and specific brand named items that are not common across the country. Make sure you take pictures in each room from each direction (four corners) to insure that any and all items might be seen and later remembered. The biggest mistake a homeowner makes is doing an inventory that only has the larger furniture items and they find themselves receiving a pay out that doesn’t come close to the maximum of their policy or near what their actual loss is. These pictures are great prompts in a time when you won’t remember what you owned, but only that everyone got out safe and okay.
• Store these pictures in one of the many “cloud” venues; icloud, dropbox, one drive, etc. Its no longer necessary to print out pictures and store them in a safe deposit box as we did “back in the day” though if you have, that’s great as long as your bank hasn’t also experienced the same event. (We found during Hurricane Harvey, a large commercial bank that many would have used as their safe deposit box location flooded and has no intention of rebuilding in that same location. This is a location that has been there over 25 years but is no more. You can see the disadvantage of the old school safe deposit box.)
• Evacuate with the irreplaceable: photo albums, scrapbooks, boxes of photos, all deeds, titles, stock certificates, legal documents including wills, trusts, identification, heirloom linens and original artwork. Diplomas, framed diplomas, licenses, professional license documentation, and any briefcases.
• Evacuate with all essential living items: a go bag for each family member including 5-7 days of clothing (tops, bottoms, underclothing, shoes, boots), hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, blow dryer and hair brush. All medications; RX and regular OTC meds that you might need. This expense can add up fast and take up a large percentage of what FEMA might distribute per household.
• Your pet in a carrier with leash and bowls/food/meds that they may need. DO NOT LEAVE THEM BEHIND to fend for themselves until you can return. This is becoming a huge problem and thus in many states has become a criminal offense.
• Any textbooks, school work and homework your children may need. You might be surprised how quickly schools reopen for regular hours and having these with you will insure your children’s routine returns to some form of normalcy. If you see then fall behind in school it will not only stress them further but also add to your stress. Grab their backpacks.
• Grab at least one cell phone with both car and wall charger. If you have time, grab at least one lap top. Don’t mess with any desk top computers but if you have time (2-3 days to prep) back your desktop data to the cloud as well. If all family members have cell phones, chances are this is the first thing grabbed, but if you are in a hurry (an hour or less as was the case for many in Hurricane Harvey) you just might be surprised what you won’t even think about.

You didn’t have time to evacuate a car load with family but only what’s on your back:

• First, take stock in the fact that you made the right decision to leave and protect your family. You are out, safe and hopefully hearing regular updates about shelters. Make 211 your go-to resource in the beginning if you can get through. Many cities have experienced such a flux of calls that 211 became a no-go.
• Second, don’t worry about your faith, religion or philosophy, your neighborhood churches, synagogues, etc. are some of the best sources of supplies, shelter and help. Use them. Don’t worry that you will be grilled over your affiliation or belief system. They are not open and helping to convert anyone, they are simply there to help. Go to them, any and all that are answering their phones. Many have now set up hotlines to get an assist number for help after the storm/event such as clean up, mucking and tear down crews. They also are great about loading up on infant and child items, hygiene and water/snacks. They can and do often provide shelter, taking in people who can’t get to the Red Cross shelters that are usually in a central city location, many people may not be able to get to them. Use your resources in your own back yard.
• Try to grab your cell phones, chargers, purses and wallets.
• Get out and get safe.
• Reach out, ask for help.

Now it’s time to start to recover:


Its time for that dirty word: Insurance.

Hopefully you have homeowners, flood or renters insurance. It is the one place where recovery is going to seem the most likely. But it can be a huge hassle, especially if you’ve never had a large claim.

Here’s some things to expect:

Your agent will be of minimal help. They can start the claim for you but you will then be paired with either a company adjuster, independent adjuster or in the case of a large catastrophic claim in an area that has been designated a disaster area, a FEMA adjuster. In some cases you may work with all three types of adjusters.

Special Note: In times of major disasters, many people may walk through heavily effected areas claiming to be with FEMA or other government agencies, insurance companies and contractors (more about contractors later.) Ask for identification! Take pictures of their driver’s license, their adjuster license or official government badges and ID. Well trained professionals will understand your need to verify their identity. A simple business card will not do.

You will be dealing with the adjusters assigned to you under several possible policies; homeowners, flood, renters or tenant, homeowner/tenant endorsements and auto policies.

• If you don’t have your policies, this is the place your agent will be of the most help. Get the DEC page (that’s what they’ll call it) of each policy. It will give you the limits of each type of coverage.

• Start taking pictures of your loss as soon as it is safe to return to your home or find your auto. WHEN IT IS SAFE.


Take those pictures BEFORE you start any removal or demolition. Then take them throughout the demolition process, and the stacks of possessions and demo materials you’ve hauled to the curb. A recommendation is to daily upload those phone/camera photos to a back up source or directly to the cloud account you are using. Just in case. Things happen and the time to find out the photos were lost is not after the demo is hauled away but rather at the end of the night when you can probably take more the next day. Photos are priceless in an insurance claim. When you list items, seeing open kitchen cabinets with mud soaked plastic containers and boxes of wet Ziploc bags help the adjuster get a clear picture of the degree of loss.


• Open cabinets and drawers in the kitchen, baths, dressers and desks.
• Open storage cabinets in the garage, closets throughout the house and built ins.
• Strip the bed and take pictures of the mattresses.
• Find the best/darkest water lines on the walls to show the height the water reached.
• Open any freezers and refrigerators to show contents if they are still upright. If they are leaning or downed, just a picture of the displaced appliance is enough to show total loss.
• Don’t forget the pantry and spice cabinets.
• Medicine cabinets. Vanity drawers. We have hundreds of dollars of miscellaneous items that are lost in a flood, wind or tornado event. A few pictures of these areas show the adjuster you have lost more than a couch and chair set but all the things that we buy to live our normal daily lives.

I’LL SAY IT AGAIN, BEFORE YOU START ANY REMOVAL OR DEMOLITION. Many insurance companies are good about accepting loss claims with minimal pictures that are not clear what the loss contains but showing the full extent of the loss as early into the loss is the best defense in getting the maximum reimbursement you are due.

• Find out the process and form YOUR insurance company uses or find an Insurance Inventory Specialist who can walk you through the process. Often the first claim made and the focus of your loss is your home; get it remediated fast and start the rebuild. Personal property is often put on the back burner and many homeowners don’t watch the deadline for claims filing and miss out on their second largest insurance loss pay out. Check with your insurance company but this date is often a year from the first date of loss (ie. A year from the date water entered your home or the date the hurricane hit landfall. Each company may use a different determining “first date” timeline, so check early on.)
• After dark there is little you can do to rebuild your home. Use this time to go to your pre-event drop box photos and use an inventory prompt sheet to remind you of every thing you owned. Make checks by the items you had or can see in the pictures. Make notes on ages of items and brands if you remember. Look at the pictures you’ve been snapping on the phone during the clean out. Start your inventory sheets now.
• Ask your agent if you can use a simple WORD form, PDF you create or are provided by your Insurance Inventory Specialist or an excel spreadsheet. Some insurance companies have online data entry software they want you to use. Farmer’s Insurance is one that DOES use an online inventory tool and they will NOT accept a spreadsheet or PDF list you create. State Farm accepted an excel spreadsheet with image notations and a link to your dropbox file you share with your adjuster. Remember, the adjuster is the one who will determine what and how much of a loss you experienced so give them access to as much information as you can. But make sure you find out and use the form they will accept.
• Expect that the inventory can take some time to create so start immediately. With help, you can complete your personal property loss in 7-10 days and file your claim early on.
• Once your inventory is filed you can expect to get a “settlement statement” stating how much your insurance is going to pay on the inventory you provided. Look this over carefully and if necessary ask if you can amend or add to your inventory. Some companies allow you to make a claim on large furniture for one or two rooms and complete the inventory later. Others insist that the list/inventory is complete for the claim to be processed and will not allow ANY changes, additions or adjustments be made. This is essential if you feel you had a complete loss but your pay out is not the total of your personal property portion of your insurance.
• CAUTION: We mention several times about maximum payout on your policy. You are entitled to the maximum payout of your loss. You are not entitled to the maximum your policy states if you did not experience a loss of that amount. Do NOT try to get to that number with bogus items you did not own. This is insurance fraud and will cause you life changing problems you don’t need. Be honest and fair. Adjusters are trained to look for red flags for fraud. Just list what you know you owned, be fair and honest and things generally work out fine.
• IMPORTANT: In terms of maximum pay out of a total loss, just because you are adding things to your inventory list, do not stop when you reach the maximum. If you have loss that exceeds your maximum you still want to list them. The insurance company may use a depreciation formula to determine the value of your items and you could get caught short if you short change yourself.

For example: A family owned a large four bedroom, three bath home in an upper middle class neighborhood. They had a maximum personal property loss of $100,000 but as the list was created, they had an inventory in excess of $210,000. With the 22% depreciation they took on some larger items, had they not included the entire inventory, they might have received less than the $100,000. They clearly had a total first floor loss and even at the maximum pay out they would not find themselves completely made whole again. It is very important; be honest but be thorough.
• Before they pay out on this claim, they will expect signatures of the insurance policy holder and/or homeowner. Have all parties sign the form (usually requiring a notary) and over night it back to the address they provide.

These funds are designed to rebuy your furniture and start over. This is the one area that many, while working so hard with mortgage companies and general contractors and adjusters, forget to do. Make this a priority. Use the funds sparingly but use it for what you need. Things are things and if you need funds to live on for a while, if you file this claim early you will find the stress of rebuilding to be greatly reduced.

A personal property inventory and pay out is a great source of survival. I’ll repeat this because its so important, these funds are often forgotten or little effort is put into this portion of your claim but the average 3 bedroom, 2 bath home will experience a loss in excess of $100,000. The average policy for a home of this size maxes out at $100,000. This ISN’T free money. You’ve been paying your premiums for years and today you need it. But in the fury of rebuildling your home, this valuable asset is often forgotten.

This post deals with your personal property. Your insurance claim for your home structure itself is another matter and dealing with that process will be dealt with in another post. Attached is a prompt sheet for personal property claims. Use it. It will spark so many reminders and get you on track for a quick and often surprisingly easy process.

You are already overwhelmed. You have a lot ahead of you. Follow these few posts to help make this time a little less stressful. That’s our goal.

This information is provided by:
AJC Consulting – Leslie Culver, Houston, TX
(832) 985-2626 email:

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Zello App for Rescue and Relief Efforts

Zello is another popular “walkie-talkie” phone or computer app that allows you to listen or speak with groups of other people. Since 2014, Citizens Assisting Citizens has been using Zello to coordinate relief efforts of both volunteers on the ground and remote volunteer workers.

 Overview of how Zello Works:

Some notes for CAC Volunteers:
Citizens Assisting Citizens has a private working channel for coordinating its volunteers. The following tips will be helpful if you are actively participating with relief efforts.

1. Please practice adjusting volume levels by talking to ‘Echo’ in your Contacts.
2. If you are an active or remote Volunteer, make sure to add the Moderators as Contacts. This will allow Moderators to directly message you, or create a group chat session “on the side” as needed.
3. Sensitive or personal information like phone numbers, address should not be broadcast in public, but can be conveyed to moderators directly if needed.
4. Since transmissions can be shared publicly without your consent, be careful what you say.
5. If a moderator tries to establish contact and you do not answer, you may be bounced from the channel.  A bounce is NOT a block, but repeated bounces may lead to a block. As a working channel, it is not a channel for non-relief chat. It is not AM radio, and is not for entertainment purposes.
6. Try to add a few private Contacts and practice switching back and forth between private and public channel chat. This takes a little practice!

Note: Listening to multiple channels will cause transmissions to be delayed. When you want to speak or participate in a channel, it is generally preferential to only be in only one channel at a time. Otherwise, you might find yourself responding to a transmission that is old and your reply will be out of context.

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Glympse: How to Share your Location to a Private Group

Glympse ( is a free voluntary location sharing app for smart phone users. It can be extremely useful when tracking multiple people who are on the road or on their way to a destination.  This is particularly useful for companies as well as volunteer organizations who need to keep track of the locations of their people.  Regular people can invite others to view their locations with any phone number or person in their phone’s contact.

Overview of Glympse’s functionality:

Sharing your location to a Private Group:

Because of privacy concerns, Glympse allows you to share your location with a Private Group. The name or identifier for our private group is: !nameofgroup (once you make this up, you can tell others who can share to it as well.)




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