More than 200 flood and tornado victims lined up outside the walls of The Linc late Thursday morning, awaiting their chance to connect with resources intended to help them recover from the recent natural disasters.
The line stretched into the parking lot and remained long for hours as more and more people arrived to attend a temporary Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) at The Linc, 1299 Lafayette St. The MARC was to remain open until 8 p.m., or until everybody in line was served.
It also is scheduled to be open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday.
A MARC will also be available in Eldon from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday. Tornado victims from Eldon are welcome to attend the MARC in Jefferson City. And folks from Cole County are welcome to attend in Eldon if they can't make it to the MARC today.
Using its "mobile canteen," a food truck, the Salvation Army provided people waiting to speak with resource providers, and people offering resources, lunches, evening meals, drinks and snacks, Salvation Army Lt. Chris White said.
The nonprofit organization expected to provide more than 250 meals each day in Jefferson City, he said.
The organization was there to comfort victims and provide a little bit of comfort food for them as well, he said.
"It is just like a food truck," he said. "One lady even asked me how much we charge. We don't charge."
The MARC is designated by state emergency management, which has asked the American Red cross to help organize and manage it, according to Red Cross officials.
They are intended to help people affected by disasters to receive resources and move into recovery mode, by providing community relief as easily for victims as possible. They are considered one-stop shops for all the resources a disaster victim may need.
More than 30 agencies are participating in the MARCs.
Among the organizations represented in the MARC is the Cole County Health Department. The department was there to provide free tetanus shots for anyone who wanted them, Kristi Campbell, the department director, said.
Anyone who hasn't had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years should receive the shot, Campbell said. Particularly if they are dealing with the disaster — as a victim or a volunteer.
"If people are handling debris, they need to be protected against tetanus," Campbell said. "If they have an injury, they need to get that taken care of."
State agencies have asked the county to be sure it has a significant supply of TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine.
Floodwater also poses a threat of carrying the tetanus bacterium.
"During this disaster, tetanus (shots are) going to be a priority," Campbell said.
The Health Department is also prepared to help people recover lost records. To receive a replacement driver's license or almost any identification (in the case that yours is lost) you're required to have a birth certificate, Campbell said. Those records can be obtained from county health departments. But, there's a fee. Health officials anticipate Gov. Mike Parson will soon sign an executive order waiving the fees for the records, so people can more quickly replace those items.
Parson had already issued executive orders activating the Missouri National Guard to deploy to assist in some flood fighting, to declare a state of emergency and authorizing the use of state agencies to provide assistance as needed and to authorize the Department of Natural Resources to ease requirements for flood recovery.
Staff with the DNR manned a table at the MARC. On Thursday, DNR Disaster Response Coordinator Aaron Schmidt said the department works directly with the State Emergency Management Agency to fill needs.
DNR uses two teams in disasters — one is focused on public water systems, wastewater systems and debris management. The other deals with environmental emergency responses to things such as leaking chemical tanks and other potential environmental hazards.
"We are here to give guidance and fact sheets on what people can do to (mitigate hazards)," Schmidt said.
The most challenging things the DNR deals with during a tornado or flood are "orphaned containers," said Chris Nagel, with the DNR Waste Management Program.
"During tornadoes, small propane tanks get tossed around," Nagel said. "Those pose hazards just because they are fuels."
The biggest challenges on the "flood side" of a disaster comes from damage to wastewater plants and drinking water plants, he said.
That's not a problem in Jefferson City right now, but some smaller communities along the Missouri River may be struggling with those issues.
For information about DNR's disaster resources, go to dnr.mo.gov/disaster.htm
On Thursday at the MARC, Lakaisha McCaleb sat calmly waiting for her turn to speak with resource providers. McCaleb, owner of Joy & Gladness Children's Academy, said the tornado that raked through a stretch of east Jefferson City on May 22 destroyed her business.
"I'm just waiting to see how they can help us. I want to find a building and relocate," McCaleb said. "A lot of our day care parents don't have families in town to help them."
It's a challenge McCaleb — through her business — has striven to overcome for her neighbors.
Hers was likely the only 24-hour day care service in Jefferson City. And it served about 80 children.
Many of the families she serves have households where parents work multiple jobs to try to make ends meet.
"We were their only source of day care," McCaleb said.
Another person awaiting services was Dave Pearon, a veteran who lives in Osage City. Pearon said Wednesday that water in the basement of his house had reached the bottom of the window sills.
On Thursday, the water was 5 feet deep.
Pearon evacuated his house days ago and has been staying at Lakeside Motel in Apache Flats. It's all he could afford, and it's too much for him.
Pearon said he doesn't want to stay at the temporary shelter at Thomas Jefferson Middle School because he has post-traumatic stress disorder and is convinced he'd be uncomfortable.
"I don't do well in shelters," he said.
It is people like Pearon and McCaleb whom the Jefferson City Area Board of Realtors is reaching out to, according to Hank Vogt, the organization's past president.
"FEMA reached out to us, so we could help prevent scamming and price gouging. What we've done is collected a list of apartments and homes that are available," Vogt said.
The list he had available on Thursday included houses ranging in rent from $600-$1,600, and apartments in the $445-$500 range. Some accepted pets; some didn't. Some were furnished; most weren't.
People have reached out to the board, requesting housing, Vogt said. At that time, the Realtors try to connect with colleagues who can find the homes the clients need, depending on their needs.
Anyone searching for more information on housing should check jcabor.com, Vogt said.
His organization could connect people with money available through the national organization, he said. Its Relief Fund for Housing Assistance has provided million of dollars to people in need. It can be used for assistance with rent, a mortgage or a rent deposit, he said. Applications must be in by July 31.
"If someone can't find a place to live in the next two weeks, it's OK," Vogt said. "We can help with a mortgage, rent or rent deposit up to $1,000."