001408_05_022411We recently had 19 volunteers from all over the Czech Republic gather in Krizovan to train and prepare for responding to future floods in the Czech Republic. The event, organized by experts at our center, is an integral part of our disaster risk reduction program that we are working to implement on a national scale.

Because major flooding is a recurring problem in the Czech Republic, we at Diaconia—Center of Relief and Development understand the importance of having well-trained, well-prepared volunteers.  The three-day group training covered many important topics: better preparation of our first response team to more effectively handle the earliest needs during flooding, improved volunteer care and management, and how to work more effectively with villages and authorities to reduce disaster vulnerability in between periods flooding.

flood relief volunteers string activityOur volunteer group, with their diverse set of skills and experience, were eager to learn from one another . Some, like Olga, have experienced the effects of flooding firsthand. Her home and village have been devastated by floods on more than one occasion.  Each time, volunteers helped to rebuild her community and helped her family get back on their feet. Others at the training had volunteered in previous relief efforts and were looking to further improve their skills.  For some, this was their first experience training to respond to natural disasters.  Our staff organized an effective training that was enjoyed by everyone in attendance.

Our motto throughout the weekend, “We are all Connected,” inspired group role-playing exercises that focused on coordination and teamwork.  Participants  acted as various agencies and individuals affected during a flood—those living within the village, governmental agencies, local groups, etc.  In the process, we gained a better understanding of the ways in which these groups work together before, during, and after a major flood.  Afterwards, rich discussions about the needs and responsibilities during times of crisis took place.

We inspected our evacuation and disaster kits to evaluate what materials needed to be added and updated.  In the afternoon we learned about the various phases of a flood.  All four volunteer groups designed a “model” village that, through its preparation and training, reduced its vulnerability to the risks of flooding. In each case, volunteers emphasized the importance of fast and effective channels of communication: How do people during receive and send information during a flood?  Which information is most crucial to share? And how often is this information exchanged? We also focused on how to effectively use the specific skills our volunteers possess and ways in which we can continue their preparation and training.

Thanks to the excellent planning of our Diaconia staff, the training was a huge success!  We would like to thank all the volunteers who came and participated in this important work.  We know that together we can  increase our disaster preparedness and effectively respond to future flood disasters in the Czech Republic.

 

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