Report on State of Unmet Needs in Clatsop County following the December, 2007 Storm.
Report prepared and submitted by Charlene Larsen, Chair of Clatsop County Long-Term Disaster Committee.
Various Clatsop County officials, citizens and agency heads were contacted by the FEMA VAL (Voluntary Agency Liaison), Dennis Finuf and Oregon Volunteer Organizations Assisting with Disasters (ORVOAD) Chair Norene Goplin to consider formation of a Clatsop County Long Term Disaster Committee. This contact was made in late December 2007.
There was a training session scheduled for January 24, 2008, in Hillsboro. Rev. Judy Johnson of the First Methodist Church of Astoria and myself, representing First Lutheran Church of Astoria traveled to this training session put on by ORVOAD. A whole new world was opened up to us concerning Long Term Disaster Recovery and the cycle that creates unmet needs.
We returned to Clatsop County, gathered all interested individuals around us including Jim Tierney of Columbia County. We met bi-weekly for a few months, forming the organization, deciding on the exact form of organization we were to be, selecting a fiscal sponsor, creating a mission statement, articles of incorporation, and by-laws which were changed to guidelines. We were aware of the need to act quickly but also of the need to form the organization in a responsible manner so as to be certain that all donations would be spent and accounted for in a responsible manner.
We crafted a Memorandum of Understanding with United Way of Clatsop County to act as our fiscal agent.
We held our first meeting to form Clatsop County Long Term Disaster Committee on February 13, 2008.
We elected officers and started formal minutes on March 11, 2008.
Several members attended case manager and construction manager training in Hillsboro on March 17 to 19, 2008.
We completed our first volunteer project with a Portland Lutheran church group on April 6, 2008.
CCLTDRC arranged for Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) to assess county residents and identify unmet needs. The team conducted assessments in late April and early May of 2008. Public meetings and interview sites were established and held in conjuction with CRWRC teams going door-to-door seeking unmet needs.
We staffed a donated office at First Lutheran Church with volunteers for two weeks in late April and Early May of 2008 as CRWRC canvased the county. We established drop in centers during that two week period throughout the county, we had articles in the newspapers, went on the radio to inform citizens of our efforts, distributed flyers throughout the county and attended a disaster event at the Seaside Convention Center in an effort to get the word out. We distributed information via church bulletins, made presentations to service clubs and personally contacted each city and county executive office and police and fire departments throughout the county to get the word out. All of the material for this out reach was donated by: United Way of Clatsop County, TLC Federal Credit Union, First United Methodist Church, Lives in Transition Program at Clatsop Community College, Clatsop Community Action and First Lutheran Church.
A CCLTDRC website was established in May of 2008. ccltdrc.wordpress.com.
We went before the Clatsop County Commissioners on June 11, 2008, who recognized the committee as the official Long Term Disaster Recovery Committe of the County.
We have had representatives from CCLTDRC sit in on the Clatsop County planning process for disaster response in the future.
We forged ahead with United Way of Clatsop County as our fiscal agent and $10,000 in donations that they had received for storm disaster recovery.
We started with 59 cases and are now up to 75 cases. We had initial estimated repairs of $650,000. We started to work the cases as volunteers came forward to help.
We were able to staff our donated office at First Lutheran Church with some disaster monies funded by Management Training Corporation (MTC). That funding stopped as of the end of October. Our office coordinator worked with volunteers, clients and wrote grant applications in addition to producing a help wanted brochure, certificates and day to day phone calls, staffing meeting and office duties.
We established our office with loaned material and equipment from First Lutheran Church, Habitat for Humanity, Hope House – Lutheran Community Services NW (LCSNW), Clatsop Community Action (CCA), United Way of Clatsop County, CCLTDRC Board members and generous citizens.
1. A SE Lutheran Church of Portland came for a day and replaced two windows in a damaged home in Astoria.
2. United Way Day of Caring gathered 20 plus volunteers to clear downed trees from a property in Astoria.
3. Windemere Realty Group, Arbor Care Tree Specialists, Clatsop County Corrections Work Crew and CCLTDRC board members spent a day clearing downed trees and brush from a property in Williamsport.
4. The youth group from Zion Lutheran Church in Oregon City spent three days clearing shingles and debris from a roofing project, clearing downed limbs and debris from a roof and gutters and a temporary repair to a broken window, and clearing trees from a pasture fence line and restringing the fence to keep cows in their pasture and not on the busy road. These projects were in the Lewis and Clark area, the Williamsport area and the Youngs River area.
5. Our volunteer case worker in the mean time is working as many cases as is possible, the board members our reviewing cases and the
decisions are being made to try to help folks as best we could with volunteer labor, pro bono work, and spending petty cash funds for lunches and water.
6. We applied for the following grants from various agencies, faith-based organizations and businesses.
1. UMCOR in congunction with Columbia and Tillamook counties for caseworkers to be shared between the three counties and funding for unmet needs. The initial grant was for $96,000. We have learned the first of November, $50,000 has been granted. We are waiting to hear the particulars once Bishop Robert Hoshibata, United Methodist Church Oregon/Idaho Conference as reviewed the grant.
2. Wells Fargo Foundation.
3. Samuel S. Foundation .
5. Oregon/Idaho Bishops Fund – status – awarded $15000 plus $3000 for travel. With this funding we were able to have LCSNW hire a case manager to oversee case work and a parttime caseworker to continue on a paid basis what had been started on a volunteer basis.
6. Ben and Jerry’s.
7. U S Bank.
8. Bradwood Landing – Northern Star Natural Gas.
9. ORVOAD – $450 – materials for repairs to home in Astoria. ORVOAD – $500 – for contracted office staffing in November for 41.6 hours.
10. ORVOAD has supplied us with a tool trailer filled with the necessary tools to complete the cases we have tackled with volunteers. This is a traveling tool trailor for use in this two state region.
11. We have gained the invaluable expertise of Phyllis Wright of Presbyterian Disastor Assistance (PDA) who is also the ORVOAD representative.
12. We have had contact with Rep. David Wu’s office in July concerning the boil water situation in Westport and contact with State Senator Betsy Johnson who gathered the water districts and association together to address the damage to the water system in Westport. We have followed up on this issue with Clatsop County’s Community Development Executive Ed. Wegner. We also contacted Joelle Archibald, of the Clatsop County Health Department concerning the issue.
The Hilltop Apartment re-roof project for one unit was completed September 22 to 24, 2008. The balance of this $100,000 project will be completed in the spring with insurance proceeds and the Community Action Team special Weatherization Disaster Funding.
The continuing story has brought us two volunteers who have provided pro bono work to clients who needed danger trees removed.
1. Arbor Care Tree Specialists – Luke Colvin of Astoria. Luke has provided estimating work and his equipment and crew to clear danger trees that threatened clients homes.
Scott Utterback of Simply Tile and Precision Construction in Warrenton who has construction experience has acted as a listening ear to clients as the focus on insurance and construction issues in the process to repair and move back into their homes.
We have been able to close 15 cases with work done by the committee or the client completing the work necessary. We are gaining cases as publicity occurs with success stories or folks discover issues as we enter the winter storm season of 2008.
In November, 2008 we were pleased to have CRWRC join with us again and rely upon their expertise in Construction Estimating. This has been the issue that has held up the process, being able to estimate the remaining 36 plus unmet construction issues. The CRWRC team arrived 11/10 and is spent a week plus to estimate the construction jobs. We now have a better understanding of what it will take to repair, replace, rebuild and clean-up the unmet needs of these clients and find the funding grantors and volunteers to help the clients.
As this assessment was going on, the CCLTDRC with the help of the US Coast Guard Cutter Alert and material funds from ORVOAD are working on a project the seal in a damaged home, construct stairs and a porch so a client will finally have access to their damaged home.
The committee has prioritized our cases and in the next month and reach out to volunteers, agencies and grantors to address the needs.
We are also reviewing the danger trees that need to be addressed before the winds blow again and with the assistance of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and estimates by Arbor Care we should be able to clear some of the danger tree cases.
The core of committee members have put in countless volunteer hours to reach this point in the process. A clearer understanding of what Long Term Disaster Recovery means is more than can be managed in the tight constraints of a one year funding cycle, or an agencies two year funding cycle.
Our office coordinator has developed a brochure seeking volunteers for various projects, she has also developed a “Power Point” presentation for show and tell opportunities.
Breaking News: RedHare gallery in Astoria sponsored a fund raising event titled “Storm Relief Benefit” as a fundraiser for recovery efforts still underway from last year’s storm. This took place on Saturday, November 29th a 8pm, at 260 10th Streets. Tickets were $10.00. We thank the band The Swing Cats for generously donating their musical talents at this event.
We have discovered issues that are on the fringes of responsibility for a long term disaster recovery committee and have identified those for further reflection:
Issues for clients still unresolved are Hazard Mitigation issues, Flood Mitigation issues, responsibilities for failed water systems, responsibilities for stream bank erosion. Where is the help for the small woodlot owner and what is the proper way to salvage your downed timber without impacting your neighbors or streams or roadbeds? Who in the tangle of agencies is there to help cemetary districts who have had insurmountable losses? How can the Oregon Veterans Administration plug into the FEMA information to help the many veterans impacted by the 2007 Storm?
What were the disaster funds that were available from the various state, and federal agencies, and how does a Long Term Disaster Committee access those funds?
Conclusion: We are working hard to serve our county citizens in Clatsop County the best way we know how. We have not given up and we hope you will not give up on us.
Chair – Clatsop County Long Term Disaster Committee