In June 2021, southeast Michigan faced destructive flooding that impacted a large area of Detroit and surrounding communities. As a part of the recovery process, Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs) were formed, with assistance from Michigan State Police Emergency Management division, FEMA, and the Michigan Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).
A long-term recovery group is made up of representatives from organizations such as faith-based, non-profit, governments and businesses. These groups work within a community to collaborate and assist individuals and families as they recover from a disaster. They are often set up across the country following disasters, and frequently remain active for years after a disaster to ensure communities are supported well after the disaster happens.
Since the fall of 2021, there have been several communities throughout the Detroit metropolitan area where partners have collaborated to build long term recovery groups. These organizations are active in West Wayne County, Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, Down River, Macomb and Oakland Counties, Hamtramck, and West Detroit. Represented organizations include local faith-based organizations, libraries, senior centers, and service groups such as Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs. They also include larger organizations that support regional needs, such as West Wayne Metro, 2-1-1, St. Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army, local emergency management, and Wayne State University.
In Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood, representatives from various organizations and faith-based groups came together early after the disaster to identify the best ways to help their community. That group is now known as the ‘District 4 Disaster Recovery Group’.
The District 4 Disaster Recovery Group recently received 501(c)(3) status, which helps to solidly ground them as a capacity building group and help with individual recovery case work, as well as resiliency initiatives that will support their entire community.
“The need for a stable group that is there for the long term is essential to help bring relief and hope to those who find themselves is these dire situations,” said Bishop Lenard G McCray, Sr., Chairperson for the District 4 Resource Recovery Group. “It is not a matter of if but when will the next event happen. The need for a stable group that is there for the long term is essential to help bring relief and hope to those who find themselves is these dire situations. We need to encourage our community through disaster readiness, helping to reduce the time between disasters and disaster response, helping to bridge the gap between the community and those agencies that can help, and bringing to the community more resources than just the government.”
Although groups may be structured in different ways, a key goal is to unite recovery resources with community needs to ensure that even the most vulnerable in the community recover and the community continues to build resiliency to address future challenges. Community members can help by:
- Participating in an LTRG. Joining an LTRG will provide a better understanding of the disaster’s impact, and effective ways your organization can collaborate with other groups to help.
- Supporting the LTRG infrastructure. LTRG infrastructure is typically supported by existing staff members from community organizations, volunteers, and occasionally an administrative assistant. Operational support through organizational participation and funding can help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the group.
- Recognizing the implications of “long-term” and the importance of collaboration for community resiliency. Disaster funding and response organizations are often active in the immediate relief and response phase, but the lessons learned through this effort can be invaluable for community capacity building.
Long term recovery groups are essential to the work that FEMA does and help to create stronger, more resilient communities.
To learn how to join a VOAD to help respond to disasters across the country, visit NVOAD.org. To join one in southeast Michigan, visit MichiganVOAD.org. For more information about the District 4 Disaster Recovery Group in Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood, visit d4drg.org.