John Bernardi (center), chair of the Long Term Recovery Group, discusses efforts to pool resources to meet the needs of area disaster victims as other members sit and listen in the background. Photo by Stephen Bartlett
A person’s whole world view can be shattered when they go through a disaster, says Jamie Grubb.
“They believed in a safe and happy world, and all of a sudden it is gone,” said Grubb of Hesed Hope Ministries. “That is where mental health counseling comes in.”
That is one of a plethora of services that will be offered under the new Long Term Recovery Group that has been established to help meet the unmet needs of disaster victims in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. Grubb is vice chair of the new group that consists of several non-profit organizations and governmental agencies from throughout the region that have come together to build a coordinated network.
The group was formed to meet the unmet needs in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, and other disasters, as well as future events.
“This was a large scale disaster, and a lot of people didn’t have flood insurance,” Grubb said. “There is not enough funding, and it takes a community to come in and support the individuals.”
The purpose of the Long Term Recovery Group is to coordinate long term disaster recovery through mobilization of resources and case management. Currently, the group is focusing on recovery efforts associated with Tropical Storm Irene.
The group was established with the assistance of FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons assigned to the region in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.
The Long Term Recovery Group elected John Bernardi of the United Way of the Adirondack Region as chair.
The group is comprised of over 20 organizations, both non-profit and governmental, throughout the region.
“This group has come together and is a able to pool our resources,” Bernardi said.
Bernardi stressed that the recovery efforts so far have been good, but there is tremendous need out there and there are still unmet needs.
This could include rebuilding, relocation, physical damage, mental-health counseling and more.
“There are hundreds of people affected, and the majority of those affected still have unmet needs,” Bernardi said.
The group’s main focus is on families, but it will not ignore businesses.
“There are dozens of businesses affected,” Bernardi said. “We anticipate recovery from Irene to go on for quite some time.”
Fortunately, there is a pool of resources being brought to the table, whether it be funding or services.
“It is partially about dollars and cents,” Bernardi said, “but equally important are the services we can provide them.
“This is the first time in this region we have brought together this type of group.”
He said the region is blessed with a tremendous network of health and human service organizations.
“By mobilizing the resources we will be able to help our friends and neighbors who have been devastated by the particular disasters and address future disasters.”