2008 Flood update

Jan 15, 2009

Disaster Response Program aids flood victims

Crisis Center employees are skilled professionals who respond efficiently, compassionately and appropriately to any emergency. They are "go-to" choice when immediate, emergency assistance is needed really fast.

They were there to assist Hurricane Katrina victims who moved to the area in 2005. And, they were there to help those displaced by the Iowa City tornado in 2006. So, naturally, the Community Foundation of Johnson County and United Way of Johnson County looked to the Crisis Center again to contract emergency services when the Corridor region was hit by 2008 Flood.

Community Intervention Program Director Keri Neblett says the nonprofit agency staffed up quickly, borrowing employees from Johnson County Social Services and hiring current Crisis Center volunteers to fill the gaps. During the flood's peak, six part-time flood advocates provided key case management services to flood victims, helping them wade through mounds of paperwork.

Crisis Center flood advocates assisted 444 households, distributing more than $300,000 in flood assistance through the Community Foundation of Johnson County and the United Way Disaster Relief Fund. Advocates served as the central point of contact to connect flood victims with disaster services and funds through Iowa Unmet Needs Grant. The program was geared to individuals 300 percent below the poverty level. Those who qualified were offered up to $2,500 for home repairs, food, lodging and personal property damages.

"The program has been so successful, we're now looking to make disaster recovery an ongoing service of the Crisis Center," Neblett says. "Our staff and volunteers work under very stressful circumstances. We help flood victims rebuild their lives. Starting over is so overwhelming. We helped people navigate regulations and connected them with available services. The people we served are definitely grateful."

To date, 349 flood cases have officially closed. Open cases have extenuating circumstances which requiring multiple services that will take longer to complete.

The Johnson County Long-term Recovery Committee, coordinated by United Way of Johnson County and chaired by U.S. Bank Market President and United Way Vice Chair Bart Floyd, included representatives of the Community Foundation of Johnson County; American Red Cross, AmeriCorps VISTA, Community Mental Health Center, Crisis Center, Elder Services, Inc., FEMA, Heritage Area Agency on Aging, Iowa City Chamber of Commerce, Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity, Johnson County Department of Public Health, Johnson County Social Service, The Housing Fellowship, Project Recovery Iowa, Consultation of Religious Communities, Johnson County Council of Government; officials from Iowa City, Coralville and the University of Iowa.

Category: Partners Project