The Daily Iowegian
---- — They responded to hurricanes, tornadoes and explosions, assisted disaster survivors nationwide at their greatest time of need, helped pioneer new methods of disaster response, and developed leadership and problem-solving skills to last a lifetime.
Rachel Conger, resident of Centerville, successfully completed FEMA Corps, an intensive 10-month national service program addressing needs in disaster response and recovery. The graduation ceremony on Nov. 19 celebrated their first class of FEMA Corps graduates at the Sacramento, Calif. campus. Conger was one of 141 FEMA Corps members honored at the ceremony.
FEMA Corps is an innovative partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Corporation for National and Community Service to enhance the nation’s disaster response and recovery capacity while expanding career opportunities for young people. Established as a new unit within the existing AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps program, FEMA Corps engages young adults ages 18 to 24 to serve on disaster-related projects.
After completing training in March 2013, FEMA Corps members deployed across the United States to provide both immediate response and long-term recovery support in emergency management. They supported communities affected by Hurricane Sandy, the tornado in Moore, Okla., flooding in Colorado and Illinois, and more. When not assigned to immediate disaster response, the teams served FEMA in locations across the country assisting with longer-term recovery operations.
During their 71 projects, these Sacramento-based Corps Members completed 325,000 hours of service. A small sampling of their accomplishments include collecting or distributing over 1 million pounds of supplies, goods, food, and clothing, conducting over 3,000 case status updates and answering about 5,000 registration or helpline calls, among many other measures.
Before joining FEMA Corps, Conger attended Centerville High School and Indian Hills Community College.
AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, residential, national service program in which 2,800 young adults serve nationwide each year. During their 10-month term, Corps members — all 18 to 24 years old — work on teams of eight to 12 on projects that address critical needs. Traditional NCCC members work on a variety of different six- to eight-week-long projects related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation and urban and rural development. Members of FEMA Corps, a new branch of NCCC, focus their projects exclusively on disaster relief and recovery work in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Pacific Region campus in Sacramento is one of five regional hubs in the nation and serves ten states in the western part of the country. The other campuses are located in Baltimore, Md., Vinton, Vicksburg, Miss. and Denver, Colo.
In exchange for their service, Corps members receive $5,550 to help pay for college, or to pay back existing student loans. Other benefits include a small living stipend, room and board, travel, leadership development, increased self-confidence, and the knowledge that, through active citizenship, people can indeed make a difference.