Anyone who is in any way affected by recent storms or flooding is asked to call 211 immediately, officials said Wednesday.
The number will be answered by a live person who will speak to people about the resources available in the continuing recovery from flooding and the May 22 tornadoes that struck Central Missouri, said Ann Bax, president of the United Way of Central Missouri.
Operators will tell people about the Multi-Agency Resources Center — a "one-stop shop" where private and public relief agencies will offer services to disaster victims. The MARC is a never-for-profit center in which agencies, their staff and volunteers will connect victims with those services.
The MARC in Jefferson City will operate at The Linc, 1299 Lafayette St. The Linc wellness and recreation center will open for storm victims 11 a.m.-8 p.m. today and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday.
A MARC will be available in Eldon from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday at the First Church of the Nazarene, 1024 E. Lawson St.
"When you call 211, you need to let them know if you need help with cleanup," Bax said during a news conference Wednesday. "We have all kinds of volunteers who want to help."
People can't just wander onto private property and start helping. They must have authorization.
The folks at 211 are striving to get the names of everybody affected by the disasters and to get those victims to the MARC.
The MARC is designated by state emergency management, which has asked the American Red Cross to help organize and manage it, according to Abigail Anderson, director of the Red Cross of Central and Northern Missouri.
It will help people affected by the disasters to receive resources and "launch into recovery mode," Anderson said.
"Rather than bouncing these folks around town from agency to agency — many of these folks do not have transportation — we're trying to make it as minimally stressful on these clients as possible," Anderson said, "and hosting our key components and key resources in one location, so a client can walk in and receive everything that they need during one single visit."
The purpose of a MARC is to provide community relief effort as easily as possible, she added. More than 30 agencies have offered to provide services at the MARC, she said.
Anyone from Jefferson City or Cole County who can't make it to the MARC today or Friday may go to the MARC in Eldon on Saturday, according to Paul Marx with the American Red Cross.
If people from Eldon want to attend the MARC in Jefferson City, they are welcome to do so, he said.
"We actually find that two days works very well," Marx said. "All the agencies have their day-to-day business. After the MARC, the aid is not going to stop."
An interpreter will be on site to assist people who are deaf with services at the Jefferson City MARC from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. today.
All the local churches associated with the storms' recovery belong to an organization called Missouri Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, according to Jody Dickhaut, with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. MoVOAD brings together all the community partners — faith-based, nonprofit and citizen groups — who want to provide services in the wake of disasters.
"It's our partnerships that make the most important difference," Dickhaut said. "Working together, we get more done than when we just work by ourselves."
Clients — those affected by flooding and tornadoes — have their worlds turned upside down, into a jumbled mess, Dickhaut said. It can be daunting to go through a process in which there are so many steps to take and things to do to recover.
"We understand the process. And we provide the personal guidance service to each client that comes through — greeting them at the door, getting them registered and making sure that they don't miss any of the services provided," Dickhaut said. "They don't have to worry about where to go next — or what to do. We guide them through that, step by step."
Missouri is blessed to have organizations that work together — especially in MARCs, he said.
The Salvation Army will assist victims with three items during the MARC, according to Lt. Christopher White. It will provide gift cards to disaster victims. The value will be based on the household size and the level of damage to their properties.
It will also provide emotional and spiritual care, White said.
"The Salvation Army sees not just the physical damage that people have gone through," he said. "But we look at it holistically. Just to say, 'How are you doing? Not just your house, but how are you doing? How are your pets doing?' Emotionally, we want to care for people in times of need."
The Salvation Army will feed folks at the three MARCs, providing lunch, dinner and snacks to participants and clients.
The United Way has helped to organize a volunteer sign-up center at Capital Mall since Friday. Cleanup efforts have been winding down this week, said Deb Hendricks, with Missouri Emergency Management. And with the efforts, the sign-up site at Capital Mall, 3600 Country Club Drive, will close soon.
It's likely that not all people who need help cleaning up their properties have notified officials yet. Those who need help should also call 211 for that purpose.
"What we are hearing is that Jefferson Citians are not taking advantage of the help that's available to them," Hendricks said. "And I encourage you to do that."
A misconception is that if someone asks for help, they are taking help from someone else. That is not the case, Hendricks said.
"If you the need help, ask now," she said. "Because volunteers are going to be going to the Capital Mall through Sunday at 3 o'clock."