ATLANTA, Ga. -- Inevitably, some people affected by the April 27 – 28 storms will not meet the eligibility criteria of government disaster aid programs or will have serious unmet needs even after receiving help from these programs. For them, assistance may come from committees made up of faith-based organizations, non-profit agencies and state and local agency personnel who work on problems that may range from home repair to counseling.
“The Long-Term Recovery Committees (LTRCs) in Georgia are being created to find the people who have continuing unmet needs despite the overlapping systems delivering assistance to survivors of disasters,” said Mike Yoder, Georgia Voluntary Organization Active in Disasters chairperson. “The committees, working directly with the individuals with remaining serious needs, will work to find ways to deliver that help without duplicating what other agencies can or have provided.”
Committees are already established in Catoosa, Dade and Meriwether counties. LTRCs are now being organized in other counties affected by the late April storms.
A primary focus of the LTRC is to address the remaining disaster-related needs of a family once they have received the maximum awards from federal and state disaster assistance programs. The maximum awards as established by law do not always cover the needs of a family that has lost everything.
Through collaboration and coordination, the voluntary agencies – including the faith community as a part of the LTRC – work to help the family. These partners are not limited by law to any monetary limits.
One of the key elements in the committee’s work is knowledge of survivors’ needs. Emergency management personnel and others working with survivors who have remaining unmet needs are urged to refer them to their local LTRC. “We can’t help people if we don’t know what their unmet needs are,” Yoder said.
LTRCs are composed of representatives from disaster response agencies and exist with all participating organizations as equal partners. Their mission and focus include:
- Strengthening area-wide disaster coordination by sharing information, simplifying client access and jointly resolving cases with unmet needs;
- Helping affected families develop a plan and receive adequate assistance for the recovery.
Services offered range from financial assistance, clean up, minor and major home repair to crisis and spiritual counseling.
“We have worked closely and with great success with these committees for the past 10 to 15 years,” explained Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczech “In other years assistance has mainly come in the form of personal items and minor repairs. We are seeking to offer a family support system for affected people who do not have one.”
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.