BATON ROUGE, La. – As Louisianians continue to recover from Hurricane Isaac, some of their needs may go beyond the scope of assistance from the state or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). That’s when community-based long-term recovery groups can help, providing what hurricane survivors most often need: money, materials and manpower.
With support and guidance from FEMA and the state, long-term recovery groups are working vigorously in 15 parishes. Formed from a multiple-parish network of nonprofits, voluntary agencies, and faith- and community-based organizations, these recovery groups are assessing the longer-term needs of individual hurricane survivors and connecting them to assistance.
Some of the groups were in place even before Hurricane Katrina while others formed after that storm. They were all able to act after Hurricane Isaac and will continue to do so for months or even years. Other parishes have groups that are under development or forming now.
“Long-term recovery groups are an integral part of the whole-community approach to recovery,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Gerard M. Stolar of FEMA. “The volunteers who make up these groups are working hard to take Hurricane Isaac survivors through the last steps in their recovery.”
Staff and volunteers from some of the groups are helping clear debris that remains at hurricane-damaged homes, while others are recruiting volunteers and staff. Some groups have programs to help survivors pay utility bills or obtain help with everyday necessities such as clothing, appliances and furniture.
Specific efforts include:
- The Benevolent Rural Alliance for Cultural and Environmental Strategies (BRACES) operates in eight parishes. One of the group’s initiatives is a veterans’ building and repair assistance program.
- Northshore Disaster Recovery in St. Tammany Parish is repairing hurricane-damaged homes, funded, in part, with money raised from fundraising efforts in other states.
- A new long-term committee has formed in St. John Parish where many of the members themselves sustained damage and loss in the August storm. Subcommittees include volunteer and donation coordination and construction and clean up.
- The South Louisiana Long-Term Recovery Committee (SOLA) has been active since 1993 and is currently operating in Lafourche, St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes. Among SOLA’s efforts is the revitalization in St. Mary Parish of the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster group, which has not been active for seven years.
- Formed in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina, the Committee for Plaquemines Recovery (CPR) is made up of local nonprofit and faith-based groups. CPR, with technical assistance from FEMA, is training local churches on how to perform case management. CPR and the parish government have a memorandum of understanding that designates CPR as the primary point of contact for voluntary organizations and nonprofits for response and recovery after a disaster.
In each case, Voluntary Agency Liaisons (VALs) from FEMA and the state helped to organize the groups, and VALs continue to support them by, for example, providing training for services such as case management.
“VALs prepare the recovery groups to help survivors rebuild their lives,” said Mark Davis, supervisor of FEMA’s VAL group in Louisiana. “Their work makes a community whole again, one household, one neighborhood at a time.”
Survivors who wish to contact a long-term recovery group and are not already connected with an agency in their community may visit Louisiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster at www.lavoad.org or contact their parish officials.
Following is a list of groups and the locations they are serving:
Long-Term Recovery Group
Benevolent Rural Alliance for Cultural and Environmental Strategies (BRACES)
St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington, Livingston, West Feliciana, East Feliciana, St. John and St. Helena
Committee for Plaquemines Recovery
Crescent Alliance Recovery Effort
Florida Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
Livingston, Tangipahoa, St. Helena, St. Tammany, West Feliciana, East Feliciana, and Washington
Jefferson Disaster Recovery Committee
Madisonville Relief Effort
City of Madisonville
Northshore Disaster Recovery Inc.
St. John Parish Long-Term Recovery Group
South Louisiana Long-Term Recovery Committee
Lafourche, St. Mary, Terrebonne, and Town of Grand Isle
St. Bernard Resource Committee
Washington Emergency Recovery Cadre
For more information on Louisiana disaster recovery, click www.fema.gov/disaster/4080 or www.gohsep.la.gov. You can follow FEMA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion6 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FEMA. Also visit our blog at www.fema.gov/blog.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
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. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/femaregion6, the R6 Hurricane Preparedness website at www.fema.gov/about/regions/regionvi/updates.shtm and the FEMA Blog at http://blog.fema.gov.