New Jersey Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NJVOAD) was originally formed during the mid-1980s. A small group of non-profit organizations joined together to establish a proactive entity in an effort to prepare for natural and other forms of disaster. This original group was unable to sustain ongoing efforts.
After Hurricane Andrew struck the United States in 1992, disaster related agencies decided to set up a National Disaster Task Force. Several New Jersey leaders in the disaster field met and began to discuss statewide disaster strategies. The following organizations joined together to form NJVOAD as we know it today: American Red Cross, Community FoodBank of NJ, FEMA Region II, Governor’s Office on Volunteerism, Office of Emergency Management and The Salvation Army.
In 1998, NJVOAD hosted the Annual National VOAD Conference in Atlantic City, and further strengthened their presence in New Jersey and the VOAD community.
In September 1999, Tropical Storm Floyd devastated Boundbrook in Somerset County, and NJVOAD sprang into action. They worked with the local community to establish a county based VOAD to support local relief and recovery efforts.
The tragic events of September 11, 2001 presented a new and challenging set of obstacles. While the number of deaths of New Jerseyans reached almost 700, second only to NY, New Jersey was not a federally declared disaster area. As such, financial resources were extremely limited and did not match the need.
NJVOAD helped to create the NJ Interfaith Partnership for Disaster Recovery (NJIPDR) in October of 2001. In an attempt to meet the tremendous emotional and spiritual needs which grew out of the tragedy of 9/11, faith-based organizations joined together to address this and other disaster and long term recovery needs of communities throughout New Jersey.
In 2003, NJVOAD provided regional trainings to establish county or regional COADs/VOADs (Community or Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) in communities throughout NJ. As a result of these efforts, more than a dozen COADs/VOADs were formed, and many remain active today.
Hurricane Irene made landfall near Little Egg Inlet in Atlantic County on August 28, 2011. Almost 930,000 homes and businesses across the state lost power. Nine rivers and creeks reached record flood levels and overflowed into backyards and basements, major highways and downtown streets. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed by flooding. In addition to tremendous damage to homes, business and communities, the storm had claimed the lives of 12 New Jerseyans. NJVOAD provided coordination and communication to VOADS / COADS and helped LTRGs (Long Term Recovery Groups) form in the most affected areas. (Passaic, Morris, Somerset, Bergen, Middlesex and Union Counties).
Many New Jersey residents were still recovering from Hurricane Irene when Hurricane Sandy (or Super Storm Sandy as dubbed by the media) pummeled New Jersey on October 29, 2012. Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record and affected the entire State of New Jersey. There were 34 deaths attributed to this natural disaster, and more than 258,000 households reported some sort of property loss to FEMA. NJVOAD received funding from the American Red Cross, PSEG and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to hire staff and coordinate a statewide AmeriCorps VISTA project to build capacity in active LTRGs and establish or strengthen county and regional COADs / VOADs.
In addition to the “named” storms and events above, several regions throughout NJ have experienced localized or regional events resulting in catastrophic damage to their communities. NJVOAD has partnered with these communities and the international community to respond to the following:
April 1995: Spring Flooding in NJ communities
May 1999: Donations Coordination at Fort Dix for Kosovo Refugees
August 2000: Flooding in Somerset, Morris and Hunterdon Counties
April 2005: Spring Flooding in Mercer, Passaic and Somerset Counties
June 2006: Delaware River Flooding in Sussex, Hunterdon, Warren and Mercer Counties
April 2007: Spring Flooding in Bergen, Passaic, Somerset, Burlington, Essex and Middlesex Counties
March 2010: Nor’Easter in Bergen, Passaic, Somerset, Middlesex and Union Counties
March 2011: Spring Flooding in Passaic, Morris and Somerset Counties
June 2012: Derecho Winds in Atlantic, Cumberland and Salem Counties
The State of New Jersey has recognized the efforts and value of NJVOAD and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and State Police have partnered with NJVOAD for preparedness and response exercises.
The Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC) has a seat reserved for NJVOAD to actively join in the response when the Governor declares a state of emergency.