As part of disaster recovery, FEMA’s Volunteer Agency Liaisons (VALs) are working across the Panhandle with six Long-Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs) that coordinate and deliver assistance to hurricane survivors who have ongoing needs.
The liaisons stay in contact with volunteer groups to ensure they are up-to-date with federal and state agencies’ programs and private/nonprofit resources. They also promote ongoing training to help the groups become more effective within their communities.
LTRGs are cooperative bodies of representatives from voluntary, faith- and community-based groups, government agencies, the private sector, schools, foundations and others who work together within communities to assist individuals and households recovering from disasters. Their goals are to use available resources to address needs, avoid duplication of benefits and services, and help communities be better prepared for future disruptions. Their efforts focus on survivor needs.
FEMA’s Panhandle VAL team will bring two nonprofit training groups to Marianna to offer coaching and mentoring for LTRG leaders. Training will include case management, volunteer/team recruitment, grant writing and best practices, and aid in community development and ensure continuity among the groups.
Bay County LTRG efforts include:
- Rebuild Bay County provides case management to those in need and assists with housing, repairs and spiritual or emotional counseling. The group helps ensure services are not duplicated and acts as a conduit for financial donations or grants to help survivors get assistance beyond their basic needs.
- Rebuild Bay County has helped with nearly 100 repairs; it plans to complete 360 home repairs by December 2019, coordinating efforts of Habitat for Humanity of Bay County, Christian Aid Ministries, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Lutheran Disaster Response, Samaritan's Purse, and Hope Panhandle/SBP and others.
- Rebuild Bay County LTRG has arranged for more than 3,000 volunteer home debris and mold removals. Much of that work was done by Samaritan's Purse, Team Rubicon, Baptist Disaster Relief, Hope Panhandle and All Hands and Hearts.
Jackson and Calhoun counties’ activities include repairs and building materials:
- North Florida Inland arranged for Mennonite volunteers to help renovate the Rivertown Community Church in Marianna. The $85,000 renovation included a build-out of the kitchen, shower and lodging facility to house volunteers for the Jackson/Calhoun area.
The Mennonite church donated labor, materials and approximately $35,000 to complete the project. Volunteer Florida provided a grant for $25,000 and Rivertown Church provided a $25,000 matching grant.
- Chipola Baptist Association has organized volunteer teams who’ve done repairs on 70 homes as of April 10. It has had roughly 450 requests for help in Jackson County.
In four other LTRGs of the Panhandle:
- The Citizens of Gulf County Recovery Team LTRG has asked United Methodist Committee on Relief to assist with case management.
- Gulf County LTRG is working with faith-based group World Renew on a two-week assessment of survivor needs. World Review will create a report to help the LTRG and Gulf County obtain grants or federal funding.
- LTRGs in Liberty, Gadsden and Washington counties are defining priorities and developing alliances with private and government agencies.
For more information about LTRGs in the Panhandle, visit Florida Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster or Volunteer Florida.