BIRMINGHAM Ala. (WIAT) — A natural disaster response nonprofit team is setting up shop in Birmingham. They say Birmingham is the new epicenter for tornados and bad weather.
They call themselves Minuteman Disaster Response. The team consists of a base staff and several volunteers who work to provide immediate relief when natural disasters strike.
Executive director, Matt Payne, says Minuteman Disaster Response is working to duplicate their organization further east which includes Birmingham, Alabama.
Their current teams provide disaster relief services in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and New Mexico.
Payne says the organization originated 11 years ago when four individuals responded to a deadly tornado in Joplin, Missouri. He says from there, a greater purpose was discovered.
“Four guys thought, ‘Hey, this in gonna be a onetime thing, we’re gonna help somebody out.’ But next thing you know, they’re having lunch and sitting their jotting down notes on a napkin on how they could make something to be more impactful,” said Payne.
Now with several deployments under their belt, Payne says their approach sets them apart. They train, forecast, track, respond immediately, and provide recovery.
He says most funding comes through grants, but they use non-disaster days to build relationships with communities, corporations, and government agencies at all levels, starting locally.
“Disasters, you know, they start and end at the local level,” said Payne. ”So, it’s important that we have those relationships when we go in. And we’re not there to freelance and do our own thing, but we’re there to integrate into the goals that they have and help meet those goals that they have for their community.”
Payne says the organization is fully self-sufficient and provides volunteers with housing, restrooms, showers, and an operations center during deployments.
For Birmingham, Payne says they have received volunteer interest, but are in need of 150 to 200 volunteers in total. He says they are simply looking for able-bodied men and women over the age of 18 who have a heart to serve.
Birmingham district coordinator, Randy Rogan, says the overall objective is to help affected individuals rebuild their lives.
“It’s not just picking up things and moving things that they own, but it’s also talking with them,” said Rogan. “You know, sometimes if they’re open to that we have been praying with them and just let them know we care for them and we’re here to help them recover.”
Payne says Birmingham operations will begin immediately, but they hope to have a fully duplicated team by 2026. To learn more about how you can become a minuteman volunteer, the Minuteman Disaster Response team encourages individuals to visit http://minutemanresponse.org/bham-interest .