State agencies offer assistance to flood victims

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Multi-agency resource center offers help to flood victims

State agencies descended on Cassville last week, aiming to assist victims of the floods July 7 and July 9, as well as assess damages that may be used by Gov. Jay Nixon to make a disaster declaration and receive funding for repairs.

On July 15, the State Emergency Management Agency set up a multi-agency resource center at the Division of Family Services office in Cassville, offering more than 20 local families assistance with everything from food to house repair advice.

Steve Tatlow, emergency human services planner with SEMA, said the center aimed to gather information about victims' unmet needs so the organization can follow up at a later date.

"People who came in met with different state agencies who engage them and ask questions so they can learn what needs are specific to each individual and refer those individuals to resources that may help," he said. "Folks with homes and businesses affected by a variety of water levels have come in. We had at least 20 households as of 1 p.m."

Jeff Barber, LEED AP architect and housing and environmental design specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, was at the event offering information relating to home cleanup and restoring a healthy living environment.

"We have information about things like mold mitigation and how to make informed decision about contents, like what to keep and what to toss," he said. "We've also partnered with the USDA in Neosho, so we can refer people to them for a home repair loan program."

Barber said disaster recovery causes the Extension to get creative in solving some problems.

"What we knew before doesn't exist any more, and you don't get what you don't ask for," he said. "Most people have asked us about cleanup and restoration. Some people had two feet of water inside their homes, so the drywall and insulation has to be removed, and we have to think about moisture management."

Barber said to help with moisture management, a moisture meter is available at the Barry County Extension office in the Barry county Courthouse. Individuals may pay a $50 deposit to use the meter, and the money is returned once the meter is returned.

Also at the event was Ken Kuschel, representing the Clark community Mental Health Center.

"We provide mental health counseling and have medication-assisted treatment available," he said. "We also help with several people who need help with transportation to things like doctors appointments."

Garrett Norell, manager of the 19th Circuit Children's Division, had a table set up with information about the Habitat for Humanity, Ozarks Food Harvest, the Ozark Area Community Action Corporation and other services available.

"We also have information about SafeLink Wireless, which can help people get a free cell phone plan," he said.

With the Division of Family Services, Tom Dodson, eligibility specialist and supervisor of the support division, was on hand to offer assistance through the food stamps program.

"If a family is already receiving benefits, any food loss because of the flood and paid for by those benefits can be replaced," he said. "We also have healthcare information for families and children."

Dodson said he talked to a variety of people, some with benefits and some without, and he referred those without benefits to local food pantries.

Other agencies at the event included, the Department of Health and Seniors Services, the Department of Insurance and the Department of Social Services.

David Compton, director of the Barry County Office of Emergency Management, said the office's community recovery center is based at the Barry County Neighborhood Center on Hwy. 248, led by Gail Reed, director of the center who is coordinating outreach for residents.

Compton said people may visit the center at any time to learn about resources or assistance available. Reed is also keeping track of those needing assistance and compiling it for the Office of Emergency Management.

More information about flood cleanup or other resources may be found at www.extension.missouri.edu by clicking the "Features" section, then the floods link. Barber said those who visit the website may also type "MP904 Resources for Your Flooded Home" into the website's search box to find a comprehensive home cleanup guide.

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