Group Photo

Humanity Road 2016 Retreat Recap

I have been volunteering with Humanity Road (HR) since February 2016. When I learned that this retreat was occurring, I was very excited. I saw this retreat as a way to learn more about Humanity Road and Disaster Response. Reflecting on this retreat, I gained so much more.

Thursday October 13

We started the retreat with a meeting on operations and goals for 2017.

Operations Meeting

Operations Meeting

We also came together for this great group shot. I was super excited about our HR Polo shirts in this photo!

Group Photo

Photo Credit: Damon Talbot

For the rest of the day, we had time to enjoy the outdoors by the lake and get to know each other better. The view was so beautiful, you could see steam rise from the lake in the morning! Having meals together was a highlight too, felt like one big family.

View from the Lake House

View from the Lake House

Friday October 14

We went to DC where we were able to tour FEMA and the Capitol. It was a beautiful Fall day in DC, very comfortable in the sunshine.

Our time at FEMA first started with us sitting in on a daily briefing. It was enlightening to see what they discuss from day to day. After the briefing we took a mini tour inside the NRCC. It was awesome to see under the umbrella of FEMA, there a lot of divisions and groups that work together.

Once the tour concluded, we sat down with several FEMA representatives and had an engaging discussion on the role of social media in disaster response. Here’s an article about the tour and the work FEMA and Humanity Road have done together.

Group Photo After Tour

Photo Credit: Damon Talbot

We then took a tour of the Capitol. We had some free time in DC, so some of us went to the Library of Congress. They had cool exhibits on the best books by American authors and a section on the history of Civil Rights in the USA.


Capitol ~ Photo Credit: Damon Talbot

Saturday October 15

Our last full day together included multiple sessions. We had an inside look and demonstration of SCANIGO, a software we use during activations.

Two of our volunteers gave a presentation on HAM Radio (amateur radio) which can be considered as the “Foundation of Social Media”. With HAM Radio, you can communicate within various distances. We learned about a lot of resources/websites that involve using radio and how we can become HAM Radio technicians ourselves.

HAM Radio Presentation

Damon giving an overview of HAM Radio

HAM Radio Presentation

Lloyd showing us a website that uses HAM Radio as a resource.

We also saw this great volunteer appreciation video (below) that one of the volunteers put together reflecting on HR’s service in 2015. It was so moving to see all the impactful work done within a year.

The highlight of the day was the recognition of some of our volunteers. Over the years, volunteers have put so many hours of service into HR. It was really wonderful and inspiring to see!

We ended the night with a barbecue. Some of us gathered around a bonfire where we made s’mores and were greeted by the moon.

Evening Moon

Photo Credit: Damon Talbot


We all have different backgrounds and interests. It was really cool to see how we all fit together in what we do at Humanity Road. This retreat was a great way to step away from our everyday routines and get to know each other on a more personal level.

Thank you to Damon Talbot for his great photos!


Humanity Road Disaster Response Team Tours FEMA National Response Coordination Center

This month, Humanity Road Volunteers and staff gathered at Lake Anna, Virginia for a retreat and planning session.   As part of the program, the team was invited to tour FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) facility in Washington DC.  The tour included an overview of the activation process and the team  met briefly with representatives from the FEMA Private Sector, Voluntary Agency Liaison, Individual Assistance, and National VOAD.  “This is Whole Community planning at its best.  It gives our team the chance to see first hand how the NRCC operates within our national response framework,” shared Cat Graham, Chief Operations Officer.  

“I was very excited to see FEMA engaging us in how we can collaborate in future disaster responses through social media” said Damon Talbot who volunteers for Humanity Road from his home in Oregon.

Humanity Road became a member of the FEMA Tech Sector team in April of 2015 .  Since then we have responded to events inside the USA and its protectorates and have been able to get a clearer indication of critical information needs to help improve the flow of information across the tech sector members and partners.  Over the past year and a half, Humanity Road has provided situation reports for Louisiana, Maryland, California, West Virginia, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina to name a few.  

Since the launch of the program examples of digital deployments included Typhoon Souldelor in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Hurricane Joaquin.  In response to CNMI, the Private Sector liaison was enroute to meet with the local Chamber of Commerce, and Humanity Road volunteers compiled reports that provided an initial overview of  needs and impacts to businesses and hotels throughout the islands.  

In Oct 2015, Hurricane Joaquin caused extensive flooding along the east coast of the United States.  Humanity Road disaster response team received a request for information from FEMA on October 5th and in response provided a detailed Situation Report.  The focus was on water supplies, distribution of bottled water, and status of the private sector in the cities of Columbia and Charleston in South Carolina.  The team also produced a special resource report  which included resources for seniors and people with disabilities.

“Since the roll-out of the Tech Sector program the FEMA Tech Sector partners program has supported and helped to improve mission-related information sharing across all tech sector members.  It contributes to a faster response and ensures that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our response capabilities.”  Thank you FEMA!