NEW CASTLE, Del. -- Inevitably, some people affected by the storms and floods from the hurricane will not meet the eligibility criteria of government disaster aid programs or will have unmet needs even after receiving help from these programs. For them, assistance may come from a committee of churches, non-profit agencies and state and local agencies who work on problems that may range from home repair to counseling.
"This Long-Term Recovery Committee-Delaware (LTRC-DE) has been created to find the people who have become lost among the overlapping systems delivering assistance to survivors of the disaster," said Mark Tinsman, director of emergency and health services for the Delaware chapter of the American Red Cross. "The committee will determine with them their serious unmet needs and organize in a way to deliver that assistance without duplicating what all other agencies can provide or have provided."
One example of what this committee can do involves the case of an older couple who lost their food freezer and all its contents. Next week the LTRC-DE will supply the couple with a new food freezer.
Another local flood survivor lost her entire collection of cookbooks. This posed a real problem because the survivor is a cookbook editor, and the loss threatened her livelihood. The committee's co-facilitator, David Jesson, was able to network with a local chefs organization to get the editor copies of many of the cookbooks, starting her back on the road to recovery.
One of the key elements in the committee's work is knowledge of survivors' needs. They urge emergency management personnel as well as others working with specific cases to inform the LTRC-DE of possible involvement. "We can't help people if we don't know what their problems are," Tinsman said.
The Long-Term Recovery Committee:
- has as its mission to strengthen area-wide disaster coordination by sharing information, simplifying client access and jointly resolving cases with unmet needs;
- helps affected families to develop a plan and receive adequate assistance for the recovery;
- is composed of representatives from disaster response agencies; and
- exists with all participating organizations as equal partners.
Services offered range from financial assistance, clean up, minor and major home repair to crisis and spiritual counseling. Persons who still have unmet needs after exhausting all possibilities with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state should call the Delaware Helpline at 1-800-464-4357.
Disaster survivors who may not qualify for a low-interest loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration or an Individual Family Grant from the state may qualify for a low-interest loan from the Delaware State Housing Authority with a similar rate of interest and a shorter term.
"We operated similar committees with great success in 1995 during the ice storms," explained Ruth Campbell, a state human services officer who also works closely with the committee, "and again in 1998 in Sussex County when 50 to 70 affected families were served. In other years assistance has mainly come in the forms of personal items and minor repairs. We are seeking to offer a family support system for affected people who do not have one."
The group, made up of churches, private non-profit volunteer agencies and state and county agencies, is co-facilitated by Jesson, executive director of Teaching Help for Life, and Rev. Doug Lindsay, pastor of the St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Stanton.