Rural areas often have a harder time recovering from natural disasters, and have a disproportionate population of seniors, making such areas likely to be hurt by a lack of volunteers.
Greg Forrester, president of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, told Flavelle that more than five million volunteers usually pitch in with disaster relief each year, but said he expects this year's turnout to be half that, which won't be enough.
Complicating the possible lack of volunteers, the highly trained staff of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is already spread thin from responding to the pandemic, Flavelle reports.
"It is the latest in a cascading series of problems facing an already fraying system ahead of what is expected to be an unusually severe hurricane season combined with disasters like this week’s dam collapse and flooding in Michigan, a state particularly hard hit by covid-19," Flavelle reports. "FEMA says it has taken steps to prepare for hurricane season, including expanding its coordination center in Washington, hiring staff and working with state and local officials and nonprofits to adapt to the pandemic."