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State commission releases $104K to help find housing for tornado victims

by Joe Gamm | May 28, 2019 at 11:24 p.m. | Updated June 3, 2019 at 7:25 p.m.
Volunteers with The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri hands out food Tuesday to those in need outside of First Christian Church. The food bank prepared 9,500 pounds of fresh fruit, vegetables and non-perishable foods so families can have food that does not need to be prepared. Food Bank locations for Thursday and Friday can be found on the Food Bank's Facebook page, website and on the United Way website.

The American Red Cross will be setting up Multi-Agency Resource Centers in Jefferson City and Eldon later this week, according to Theresa Verslues, vice president of the local United Way chapter.

Those centers offer disaster victims a place where they may reach relief agencies - both private and public - in a "one stop shop." The MARC is never for-profit. Agencies within the MARC are vetted. Their staff and volunteers are held to a high ethical standard. Within the MARC, a verification system is created to identify those who have been affected by the disaster.

The MARC is configured to maintain the confidentiality and dignity of victims.

The Jefferson City MARC will be at The Linc, 1299 Lafayette St. The Linc wellness and recreation center will open for storm victims 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday.

The Eldon site, which is expected to open Saturday, has not been chosen.

A state agency on Tuesday announced the distribution of $104,000 to assist low-income families affected by the May 22 tornado in Jefferson City.

The Missouri Housing Development Commission approved the relief funds to be distributed by Central Missouri Community Action.

CMCA serves eight counties in Central Missouri - Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau and Osage. It uses federal Community Service Block Grants and community support to help clients with employment, education, housing, nutrition, emergency services and health, and to better use available income.

The relief funds are to be used to provide hotel/motel vouchers to tornado-displaced families, and to help them pay deposits and first month's rent for new places to stay.

The support will ensure people who lost their homes in the tornado have a roof over their heads and can find a safe place to call home, CMCA Executive Director Darin Preis said in a news release.

The organization is working directly with the American Red Cross of Central and Northern Missouri and with the United Way of Central Missouri to support tornado victims and to provide emergency shelter to them, Preis said.

"I've been pretty impressed with the coordination so far," Preis said. " The Red Cross had the shelter up at Thomas Jefferson Middle School right away. The United Way is working with volunteers."

CMCA's role, he said, has been getting people out of the shelters. CMCA has been at the shelter since Thursday, providing people vouchers for hotels and first month's rent, he said.

"We're really hoping to get people into temporary housing," Preis said. "Hotels are an immediate solution for a few days. Everybody is scrambling to find rental properties. They are hard to come by."

People have to look farther and farther outside Jefferson City, he said.

The commission's relief funds are for people of 100 percent of area median income, Preis said, which is "actually pretty high."

"In Cole County, a family of four is $75,600," he said. "So, we're going to catch about everybody.

People wishing to donate diapers, wipes, hygiene items, cleaning supplies, shoes and clothing for families may take them to the CMCA Cole County Family Resource Center, 1109 Southwest Blvd. They may also donate at

Look for the Jefferson City Relief Fund, Preis said. One hundred percent of funds will go directly to storm victims.

Anyone needing help in just about any way should call 211.

The 211 service, provided by the United Way, will help storm victims reach people who can provide basic needs in the aftermath of recent flooding and severe storms - like food, shelter or utility assistance.

Operators can help connect people with Medicaid, Medicare, prenatal care, children's health insurance programs, crisis intervention and many other services.

If you can't connect with an operator by dialing 211, call 800-427-4626.

People in need of free supplies for infants could contact Joshua House Church, according to Andria Hendricks, a Jefferson City human relations commissioner. The church, at 1136 E. Dunklin St., is open to distribute donations from 4-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Staff will also try to deliver items if to those in need. For items, call 573-230-8274.

Clothing and shoes for men, women and children are also available at the church.

Overnight Monday, Red Cross shelters in Jefferson City - at Thomas Jefferson Middle School - and in Eldon - at the Eldon Community Center, 309 E. Second St. - provided shelter to 52 people.

Of those, 28 stayed in the Jefferson City shelter and 24 in Eldon.

The Humane Society of Missouri is currently sheltering five animals (two dogs and three cats) in temporary shelters. The pet shelters are available for people staying overnight in the middle school. The pet shelter is air conditioned and can house up to about 20 pets. The Humane Society is also providing food and water to the animals of people staying in the temporary shelter.

The public is asked to stop providing donations to the shelters at this time. They have received numerous donations from well-meaning people.

Further donations should go to the United Way of Central Missouri, 205 Alameda Drive.

The United Way of Central Missouri has already - and continues to - receive donations for victims of the storms. It will open a designated donation site that will begin operating from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday at the Capital West Christian Event Center, 1315 Fairgrounds Road, in Jefferson City.

Items most in need at this point in the recovery are personal care products - such as tampons, personal wipes and diapers - along with paper goods and cleaning supplies.

The United Way has been sending out some donated items - such as bottled water and cleaning supplies - with volunteers, Verslues said.

"This kind of stuff, you don't think about," Verslues said. "We've had people ask for Depends (underpants). It's items we all take for granted."

The owners of Diamond Pet Foods have donated a pallet each of dog food and cat food to relief efforts in both Jefferson City and Eldon, Versleus said.

People wishing to provide financial assistance to the United Way of Central Missouri's Disaster Recovery Fund should visit or

Additionally, those wishing to volunteer to help with the cleanup are encouraged to go to sign-up site at Capital Mall, 3600 Country Club Drive. The site, in the old Sears wing, is open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. until further notice.

As of Tuesday morning, more than 700 individuals had signed up to help with relief in the Jefferson City area, Verslues said.

"We've had 706 volunteers sign up since Friday," she added. "Most of (the work they have done) has been debris removal. That's what has been the focus."

Stay in touch with the volunteer center, Verslues offered. It will continually update with new opportunities to help storm victims.

Monetary donations are being accepted 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the United Way office, 205 Alameda Drive.


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