During the initial response to the Missouri Winter Flooding, AmeriCorps St. Louis – working in conjunction with other AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams (A-DRT) from across the United States – acted as a statewide “clearinghouse” for homeowner intakes in addition to their role in direct service performing muck and guts and debris removal on affected homes. The large A-DRT team has since disbanded, and recovery from the flooding is now beginning to move into what is known as the “long term recovery” phase. Many voluntary organizations have left the disaster area, and the formation of community Long Term Recovery (LTR) Committees and Groups has begun. These LTRC/Gs aim to continue the long road to normalcy for many Missouri families.

Often as local community organizations active in disaster (COADs) begin to transition into LTR Committees and Groups, survivors of the disaster must wait while the group forms, writes its bylaws, and identifies key resources and players still active in the affected area. These are of course important steps to take to ensure the proper functioning of the LTR group as a whole. However, many families and individuals simply cannot wait for help to come. That’s where the most recent ERT deployment comes into play.

The recent ERT team of six deployed across Missouri worked hard to identify high-needs and at-risk survivors in order to pair them with organizations and resources able to begin emergency repairs during the interim phase of recovery. In addition to identifying homeowners in need, the ERT identified key resources still active in Missouri and assisted LTR groups in the area with their startup process.

Several ERT members also facilitated in the start up of a pilot project called the Bridge to Recovery Coalition – a collaborative effort between AmeriCorps St. Louis and several key partners. The aim of the Coalition is to provide simple repairs (like drywall replacement, insulation installation, and floor work) to affected homeowners so that they can shelter in place until their local Long Term Recovery group can address their needs.  The Coalition – made possible by a generous grant from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy – targets at-risk populations with critical unmet needs and emphasizes guiding the survivor towards self-reliance in a holistic way. The Coalition is currently underway thanks to the tireless work of several ERT members and the work of partnering agencies.

Update written by Brittany Merriman