Throughout 1997, the Emergency Management Council of Thurston County, working with the local chapters of the American Red Cross, Volunteer Center, and Crisis Clinic, formed a core Disaster Assistance Council (DAC).
The need for a Disaster Assistance Council was identified during and following the record floods of February 1996.
The Thurston County Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) received several hundred calls from individuals and businesses offering service, labor and equipment. Those that could be used in support of government sponsored activities, such as flood fighting or debris clearance, were registered as emergency workers and used. However, the majority were offering to assist flood victims with their recovery, wanting to do such things as clean or repair houses, clear land, repair vehicles, provide building materials, prepare food, care for children and pets, and provide transportation.
Over the same period, the ECC received several hundred calls from disaster victims requesting many of the services, labor and equipment that were being offered. This required the county ECC to act as a broker between volunteers and victims, a job we accepted with some reservation because we were not staffed to do it. In the end, we could not keep up and ended up maintaining lists, and doing little with them.
To prevent similar occurrences, the Emergency Management Council asked the Volunteer Center and Crisis Clinic to explore ways they may be able to help the emergency management organization handle emergency volunteers.
After several months, and a couple of false starts, a core program was agreed upon and implemented in time for the 1997-98 winter storm and flood season. Agencies involved in the DAC include the core agencies that have signed a cooperative agreement (with the exception of the Volunteer Center, which disbanded in 2011) and a variety of other non-profit and service agencies.
A current diagram of the organization can be seen here.
Please send correspondence regarding the DAC to:
Disaster Assistance Council
c/o Thurston County Emergency Management
9521 Tilley Road S
Olympia, WA 98512