Agency leaders serving on the United Way’s Recovery Committee say there’s a lull in cases related to the April 27 tornadoes, but believe the volume will increase significantly in the coming months.
At a Tuesday meeting, some of the group’s members said many storm victims are waiting for settlements from insurance companies or funds from FEMA or the U.S. Small Business Administration before starting over.
The group, which has been helping storm victims in the community on a case-by-case basis, recently picked up two new cases and expects to help even more as victims complete the FEMA appeals process.
Since June 1, the committee has also operated a referral-only warehouse for storm victims, located at 1968 U.S. 31 South. Kaye Young McFarlen, director of the Athens-Limestone United Way, said it might be time for the group to start considering long-term plans for the facility, which has received a steady stream of donations and is staffed by volunteers.
She said the warehouse was initially supposed to operate for six to 12 months, but the facility is now seeing two types of individuals — storm victims who visit the warehouse but take few items and those who sustained very little loss and take many items.
Group members speculated that storm victims who have taken very little from the facility may be staying with relatives or other temporary housing and may not have room for furniture and household items.
This week, postcards were sent out to storm victims urging them to return to the warehouse to pick up clothing for themselves and school-age children.
“That winter jacket you didn’t need in June might be needed in October,” McFarlen said.
She said the warehouse has plenty of clothing and is no longer requesting clothing donations. Items needed include tools, took kits, duct tape, pillows, shaving cream, deodorant, washing powder and kitchen furniture.
The facility operates Thursdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Referring agencies are the American Red Cross, Family Resource Center, Central Church of Christ and the United Way.
McFarlen said at least 50 Limestone County children have registered for Camp United, to be held Aug. 27 at Camp Helen. The camp, which will be followed by a family picnic, is open to any child ages 5 to 12 who was displaced in the April 27 tornadoes, and will “provide an opportunity for both children and parents to have fun as well as begin conversations about recovery.”
McFarlen said school counselors or members of the recovery committee are making referrals. A second camp may be held later this year if the committee feels there is a need.
For more information about Camp United or the warehouse, contact the United Way at 256-233-2323.