Human Needs Task Force
It is the mission of the Steuben County Human Needs Task Force to identify the unmet needs of disaster victims and provide quick and efficient coordination of resources and services to assist families or individuals impacted by a disaster.
Following a local severe snowstorm that stuck the Corning area with 30 inches of snow in 1995 and the severe flooding, which occurred during 1996, The Steuben County Office of Emergency Services in conjunction with the Corning Chapter of the American Red Cross formed the County Human Needs Task Force. This Task Force has evolved over the past several years into a key resource to Emergency Services within Steuben County. The Task Force is a joint effort coordinated by Steuben County Emergency Services, and includes the Greater Steuben Chapter of the American Red Cross, and many county human service agencies. The list of agencies includes; Pro Action of Steuben and Yates Counties, Meals on Wheels and Senior Dinner Club Program, Steuben County Social Services, Steuben County Public Health Nursing, Steuben County Office for the Aging, and RSVP. Pathways, Steuben Church People Against Poverty, Catholic Charities, Steuben ARC, Bath Veterans Administration Center, The Institute for Human Services, Home Health Care Services, Corning AIM, The Salvation Army, and any other human service agency with an interest in providing cooperative disaster assistance.
One item the Task Force has developed is a questionnaire, which is being distributed through many mediums to identified residents within the County who may have special needs. The information is used to preplan resources and allows emergency responders to be aware of residents within their response districts, which would need special assistance during evacuation and sheltering operations. This project is maintained by County Emergency Services with legal authority under State Executive Law Article 2B. Each of the Task Force Agencies has been provided with registry forms to give to their clients during the intake process. As clients complete the form, they return the information to County Emergency Services for entry into the County database. The Emergency Services Office maintains this database and provides the agencies with general information regarding the number of special needs in their area. The data will eventually be merged with the Counties 911 database to inform dispatchers of a caller's special needs when calls are made to 911 for emergency assistance. The expectation of this program is to register all county residents who have special needs and provide better emergency response to their needs during disasters.
The task force also works at developing specific pre-disaster plans to mobilize a response to better serves the public during local emergencies. The task force has divided up into five individual planning groups, or sub-committees, who during a disaster will work together to coordinate response in these five areas. The specific sub-committees are:
- Shelter and Mass Care
- Volunteer Resource/Citizen Corp Council
- Psychological Trauma
- Home-based medical care
Animal Disaster Planning and Response During a disaster the task force would be the lead group to handle the human aspects of disaster operations. They would be a resource to help coordinate assistance to residents in Shelters and Mass Care Facilities. They would brainstorm to identify any hidden needs that were being overlooked by the primary responders and planners. They would coordinate with local fire departments and other volunteer agencies to conduct door-to-door searches and provide comfort for stranded residents, as well as contacting their clients who are on the registry to help identify any additional needs.
This Task Force will be a crucial part of any disaster in Steuben County.