Following Hurricane Matthew, more than 2,000 Sampson County residents applied for federal assistance. While just over 1,800 of those qualified for some form of aid, the other 400 residents are left wondering how they will begin to start their lives over.
IMPACT Sampson, a long-term disaster recovery program, could assist those residents who were impacted by natural disaster, but do not qualify for federal assistance and have unmet needs. For those hundreds of victims of Hurricane Matthew who did not qualify for FEMA assistance, that means they could receive help in other places.
Tuesday night, Nancy Carr, executive director for United Way of Sampson County, organized a meeting of those organizations who are interested in assisting with recovery efforts and becoming a part of IMPACT Sampson. During the informational meeting, Louis Carroll, FEMA representative, offered information on what long-term recovery is and how Sampson County residents can help.
“This long-term disaster relief program will be available for people who are unable to receive state or federal funding following a disaster,” Carr said. “They must still have unmet needs before seeking assistance.”
While Sampson County does have services available to those affected by natural disasters, a long-term recovery group does not exist. Being a part of IMPACT Sampson allows those who want to have a hand in reacting during a disaster a chance to give back.
“Through the community and working together, we can maximize our resources,” Carr explained.
According to Carroll, the IMPACT Sampson will be a collaborative effort between local, county, state and federal partnerships for disaster recovery. In the event of a natural disaster, FEMA may offer assistance, but that help may not be at a level the victim needs.
“That’s where you guys would come in,” Carroll said. “When FEMA has given out all they can, and there are still some unmet needs, you can help. Or, if for some reason someone doesn’t qualify for federal or state assistance, your organizations can help these victims get back to their new normal.”
Recovering from a disaster doesn’t happen overnight, according to Carroll. The recovery period is long, leaving victims struggling with basic needs for months, and sometimes, years. Following Hurricane Floyd in 1999, some areas did not recover until five years later. Working with residents of Roberson County following Hurricane Matthew, Carroll said there are still residents who are being housed in temporary housing.
“Long-term recovery groups are a cooperative body of community representatives working together to assist after a disaster,” Carroll explained. “The purpose of the group to ensure that there is equitable distribution of all resources.”
In Sampson County, 2,201 residents applied for FEMA assistance following Hurricane Matthew. Of those, only 1,838 qualified for some form of assistance. A total of $1,949,937.86 has been dispensed to the residents in some form of aid.
According to Carroll, the 363 residents or households who did not meet FEMA guidelines for aid, IMPACT Sampson can come in and pick up where those unmet needs exist.
Many of those dealing with long-term disasters have been dealing with problems for 6 to 9 months. For that reason, Carr said it’s imperative that those who are part of IMPACT Sampson be able to make immediate decisions and offer immediate help.
“IMPACT Sampson will not only allow so many more families to receive help, but allow our county to decrease the number of duplicate services being received,” Carr said.
By decreasing the number of services being duplicated, both Carr and Carroll said more people can be helped, therefore maximizing the number of resources that are available following a disaster.
Local volunteer organizations and churches, Carr said, who have the capability to offer manpower, money and materials, and are in a position to help, are asked to become part of this group. Tuesday’s planning meeting was a start, with about 10 organizations being represented at the meeting.
“We need volunteer organizations who have the final say in something being done,” Carr said. “Those who want to help must be able to make decisions on the spot for the organization or church they are representing.”
All work involved with IMPACT Sampson will be done on a volunteer basis.
“We will basically be a clearing house for resources,” Carr said. “One organization might have the money to offer to provide assistance, while another organization may have capability to get their hands on building materials. We need people to be able to be active and responsive immediately, when the need is presented.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.