COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Inevitably, some survivors affected by Missouri's recent severe storms, flooding and tornadoes will not meet the eligibility criteria of government disaster aid programs or will have serious disaster-related 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.
Voluntary organizations are an integral part of the U.S. Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mission to provide support and guidance to communities recovering from disasters.
Acknowledging them as a vital recovery element, FEMA and State of Missouri officials are creating Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs) in the disaster declared areas of the state.
"The LTRGs in Missouri are being created to find storm survivors who have continuing unmet needs despite the disaster assistance programs delivering help to them,"; said Libby Turner, the federal official in charge of disaster recovery. "The groups, working directly with individuals with remaining serious needs, will work to find ways to deliver help without duplicating what other agencies can or have provided."
Groups have been established in 10 counties and outreach is being conducted to Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COADs) and other local agencies to explore the establishment of LTRGs in additional counties affected by the severe weather. To date LTRGs have been established in Cape Girardeau, Jasper, Mississippi, Morehouse, Newton, New Madrid, St. Louis, Stoddard, Stone and Webster counties.
A primary focus of the LTRG 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 are established by law and do not always cover the needs of a family that has lost everything.
Through collaboration, communication, cooperation and coordination – their Four Cs Principle - the voluntary agencies along with the faith community, as a part of the LTRG, work to help the family. These partners are not limited by law to any monetary limits.
One of the key elements in the group's work is knowledge of survivor's needs. Emergency management personnel and others working with survivors who have remaining unmet needs are urged to refer them to their local LTRG. ";We can't help people if we don't know what their unmet needs are," said Turner.
LTRGs are composed of representatives from disaster response agencies and work 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. The LTRGs are working to offer a family a support system they may not have.
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.
FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA disaster loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.