Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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June 2013 Archive for Disaster relief

RSS By: Pastor Craig Miller

Disaster relief coordinator Pastor Craig Miller shares disaster relief information in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Long-term Recovery Groups and unmet needs

Jun 28, 2013

After a disaster, such as Superstorm Sandy in New York, homeowners who survive the destruction turn to their insurance companies for assistance in repairing their homes and recovering or replacing belongings. Inevitably, insurance does not cover all that an individual or family needs for full recovery, some do not have insurance, and they turn to FEMA for further assistance. FEMA offers limited cash assistance as well as a low-interest loan program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The aide given by FEMA along with insurance and with other personal resources, can be sufficient for many to recover. Others need further assistance and often do not know where to turn: for these, Long Term Recovery Groups organize in order to address "unmet needs."


Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRG) consist of agencies, organizations, and faith communities brought together to share their resources, skills, and power in order to bring about a strong recovery in the communities they serve. Through Disaster Case Management (DCM), Volunteer Coordination, Construction/Rebuilding Coordination, Fundraising and Donations Management, as well as other activities, LTRGs address the unique needs of the areas impacted by the disaster, focusing on those least able to bring about their own recovery; the disabled, the elderly, and the poor. National disaster recovery organizations and agencies assist LTRGs to organize and develop for maximum impact.


One of those national organizations is World Renew (Green Shirts), the disaster response arm of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. World Renew specializes in assessing communities for unmet needs. When a LTRG is ready, the Green Shirts come to a community and, through door-to-door visits and walk-in centers, they survey survivors of the disaster regarding their progress toward recovery. They ask about the assistance survivors have already received, what needs they still have and the resources they have to meet their needs. The LTRG then takes the information collected and develops a plan to meet the unmet needs.


This spring, the Green Shirts performed assessments in the communities of Freeport, Shirley/Mastic Beach and Bablyon in Long Island. They had a very successful survey period, taking nearly four hundred clients. From their assessment they came up with over $3 million in unmet needs.


FEMA reports over 99,000 registrations in Long Island: the four hundred surveyed by World Renew make up less than one half of one percent of that number. If we were to assume that three-quarters of those who registered received sufficient aid from insurance, FEMA, and other sources, the remaining one quarter would still be 62 times greater than the number surveyed; therefore, the financial need would be over $200 million. Adding in Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island (assuming similar numbers), the need would be over $3/4 billion.


At this point in the recovery process it is impossible to know how accurate these figures are. With additional monies coming from the state and city distributions of federally authorized dollars, perhaps there will be less need. Still, what we do know is that the LTRGs have a huge task ahead of them both to keep track of the unmet needs of their communities and to raise the donations of money, time and supplies to meet those needs.

disaster relief
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