Communities in South Carolina were affected by widespread flooding in the fall of 2015 and again in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Over 16 counties experienced devastating flooding during both disaster events.
The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster Long Term Recovery Committee, which I currently chair, was approached by FEMA to provide training for newly forming Long Term Recovery Groups. The two-day training was conducted in Florence and Charleston, South Carolina the first week of March. On the first day I and my co-presenters from Lutheran Disaster Response and St. Vincent DePaul Disaster Services provided the audience with an overview on the following topics: long term recovery capacity and organization, volunteer management, casework and disaster case management. The second day focused on smaller group presentations in breakout sessions to discuss and present in more detail about construction estimation and management, grant writing, casework vs. case management and fundraising activities. The training was very well received; more than 75 interested representatives from multiple Long Term Recovery Groups attended.
Long Term Recovery is always and should always be a local effort in which non-profits and faith-based organizations collaborate and coordinate the assistance that is still needed for the most vulnerable in the community. No community can fully recover from a disaster without the local effort of these organizations to provide the resources and services to the members of their community that meets the needs that often still persist despite federal, state and agency resources in the initial response to a disaster. The most vulnerable groups – the ones most likely to need the additional support provided by the VOAD – are the elderly, single parent households, populations with special needs and immigrant or undocumented populations. This is due to a myriad of factors, including a lack of personal resources, fear of deportation and inadequate personal insurance coverage.
I feel very honored to represent CWS as one of the NVOAD organizations being recognized by our FEMA partner to support these local communities help their neighbors in need and to get to a point where each and every individual and family feels that they have achieved recovery from a devastating disaster event in their lives.
Susanne Gilmore is a CWS Emergency Response Specialist.