Emergent organizations allowed thousands of people to help in the clean-up and recovery right from the beginning.
Volunteer management organizations like the Mudslingers and Boulder Flood Relief mobilized hundreds of volunteers with virtually no outside resources. In addition to physical labor, volunteers used their own professional skills as accountants, lawyers, academics, web developers and database managers to build a critical response mechanism. The legal risks for established disaster response organizations – public and private – made it difficult for them to work together in the beginning. This reduced the capacity of communities to make best use of this invaluable resource. Since emergent organizations are a normal phenomenon in disasters, established organizations would do well to train for ways to deal with them when they arise, and develop materials or referrals that willing but untrained volunteer organizations can use to figure out how best to contribute (and how to minimize risk). Advice about volunteer management software, sample risk waiver forms for volunteers, web sites with links to personal protective equipment, and referrals to existing disaster response organizations that manage volunteers would all increase local capacity to respond. In some cases established organizations can benefit from the specialized skills and networks that some of these emergent organizations bring, such as their social media savvy and connections