How Local United Ways Disaster Services Program is Supporting Communities After Hurricanes, Wildfires, Pandemics, and Other Events

Episode #17

The United Way has a dedicated Disaster Services division to support local chapters and the communities they serve in preparing and recovering from disasters. This support includes preparing the chapters and their staff to be prepared for events in their community, in addition to positioning their resources to support the recovery of the entire community from events. We’ll hear from the Director of Disaster Services, Tinika Fails, on how her division is supporting the 1,100 chapters in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

Topics Covered

  • The United Way Worldwide operation supports communities and local United Way chapters in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters. Local chapters help to provide information to the public after a disaster through utilizing their 211 Network.
  • This year has been very challenging for communities as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The United Way has been working in partnership with local emergency management to support the needs of the community and to help with local disaster recovery efforts.
  • The United Way is a member of the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) which coordinates with other non-profits to help communities prepare for and respond to disasters.


Key Takeaways

  • [00:30] Introduction
  • [01:10] Welcome Tinika Fails
  • [01:16] What does the United Way do in regards to disasters. How does it support its local chapters?
  • [03:15] Have you had any sleep in 2020? I imagine it’s been a crazy year for you and your team.
  • [04:30] How are your local chapters helping those in need?
  • [07:15] I understand that United Way is part of the National VOAD group, are you the representative that participates in that group?
  • [08:15] Can you share with us how the United Way is helping the Lake Charles community after the impact from Hurricane Laura?
  • [09:40] Can you share with us how your 211 network is used to support a local disaster event?
  • [10:30] Can you share with us how your local United Way chapter is supporting Puerto Rico since the recent disasters there?
  • [12:15] As you look back on 2020, will you be capturing Lessons Learned to develop improved procedures as you move into 2021?
  • [16:30] What your advice to your local United Way chapters in working with emergency managers?
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Tinika Fails
Tinika P. Fails
Director of Disaster Services
United Way Worldwide

Tinika is currently the Director of Disaster Services for United Way Worldwide. In her role she assists all 1,100 local United Ways prepare for, respond to, and recover from all types of disasters — natural and man-made including mass shooting and civil unrest. She is responsible for providing tools, guidance and resources as it relates to disaster recovery and response. Prior to coming to the United Way, Tinika worked at the American Red Cross for over 10 years serving in a variety of disaster response roles. She is trained in damage assessment, mass care and client case work.