After devastating tornadoes and storms left portions of Mississippi battered and torn last week, the American Red Cross has been hard at work providing food, shelter, comfort and information to our friends and neighbors. The state and FEMA are hosting Disaster Recovery Centers in the hardest hit areas, and the Red Cross, along with other local aid organizations, are partnering with them to provide residents with a place to go to start their road to recovery.
Individual client casework is the method by which the American Red Cross helps those affected by disasters take the next step toward recovery – by developing a personalized recovery plan for families and individuals.
“Our trained caseworkers look at each family’s situation, address what we can and connect them with resources,” said Cheryl Kocurek, disaster response casework lead. “While the Red Cross still has some shelter locations open, it is not a permanent housing solution. Casework allows a more in-depth look at individual situations to determine the level of need to help families return to their existing or a new home.”
American Red Cross disaster relief operations director Bob Devaney said the American Red Cross opens individual casework at specific points in a relief operation in order to serve those with the worst damage, and to meet needs beyond emergency sheltering, feeding and clean-up.
“Excessive damage is a different story,” he said. “That’s when folks need additional assistance to beyond immediate emergency sheltering and feeding to begin recovery.”
A 7-year veteran of Red Cross disaster relief, Devaney says client casework helps people figure out a plan for exactly how they will recover. “We initiate client casework to help them figure out what recovery will look like for them, and outline the available resources to help them do that,” he said.
The Red Cross wants homeowners to know that emergency casework is focused mostly on severe need found within any disaster – those with the inability to return home because of structural damage that makes a dwelling unsafe, or the inability to return home without significant repairs.
“Aside from talking to the Red Cross and other relief organizations, affected residents should also be sure to register with FEMA,” said Devaney. “In this disaster, FEMA and the Red Cross share a common mission… to reach each household and provide them with available resources.”
For a list of Disaster Recovery Center locations, visit msema.org and click on “Disaster Assistance.”
If unable to visit one of these locations, families should visit disasterassistance.gov or call FEMA NUMBER. For Red Cross assistance, please call 1-800-RED-CROSS.