The mission of the Columbia County Citizen Corps Council, a 501(c) 3 private non-profit organization, is to collaborate and harness the potential of every individual as a citizen disaster responder through community education, training, and volunteer service. The Council plays a vital role in supporting county disaster response volunteer organizations making our county safe, resilient, and prepared to respond to natural and human-caused disasters.
In 2004 the City of St. Helens through the St. Helens Police Department applied for grant funding for the development of a local Citizen Corps Council. This original Council consisted of volunteers from the St. Helens Police Department Citizens Academy alumni, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), and representatives from the Columbia Emergency Planning Association (CEPA) and Columbia County Emergency Management department.
The purpose of the Council was to implement Citizen Corps in the community, to coordinate existing volunteer resources and to leverage mutually supportive training and outreach activities among the represented groups. After the establishment of the Council, the communities of Scappoose, St. Helens and Vernonia received funding through the Department of Homeland Security Office for Domestic Preparedness Citizen Corps grant program. These funds were used in each community to develop Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and to coordinate Citizen Corps efforts in each of the communities.
Efforts continued with further development of the Council with representation from the three communities, representatives from RSVP, CEPA, Columbia County Emergency Management, local Public Health, and Cities Readiness Initiatives. In 2009, the Columbia County Citizen Corps Council was officially registered with FEMA.
The Council membership has grown over the years. It now includes: CERT teams from St. Helens, Scappoose, Clatskanie, and Vernonia; Columbia County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC); Amateur Radio Emergency Services/Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (ARES/RACES); Columbia County Search and Rescue; Volunteers in Partnership with the Sheriff (VIPS); RSVP; Columbia County Emergency Management; Public Health Emergency Preparedness; St. Helens Police Department; Columbia River Fire and Rescue; and, American Red Cross.