Recovery will be elusive for manyRead more
As the physical cleanup effort continues, many tornado victims in Eldon began the process of rebuilding their lives Saturday.
The Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) was opened at the First Church of the Nazarene on East Lawson Street. Two MARC events were held Thursday and Friday for tornado victims in Jefferson City.
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 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.
American Red Cross MARC manager Jenny Solomon said, in the three days, they estimated more than 400 families had been served.
"The first thing that people are needing is housing," Solomon said. "We've got people still staying in our shelters in Jefferson City and Eldon who had damage to their homes, mostly apartment dwellers. There's not a lot of rental housing available right now."
Solomon was involved in recovery efforts after the Joplin tornado in 2011 and said, in some cases, that lasted as long as four years.
Eldon officials ask for patience with cleanupRead more
"People are always going to be here to help, and this is a good start," she said. "We've had people needing help with tree removal, chainsaw work and there's mental health experts that can help people cope because it's a large emotional time to go through."
More than 30 agencies participated in the MARCs. One of those was the Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri.
"A lot of those we saw were people who were renters, and housing is a huge need," said Catholic Charities director of Community Services Alissa Marlow. "We will be the agency that takes the lead on long-term disaster case management."
Marlow said they could be involved with some of these families for as long as two and a half years.
"We'll look at every way they were impacted by the disaster and finding them the resources they need," she said.
Even though the MARC events are done, Marlow said people who weren't able to come can still get help.
"Those folks should call the United Way's 211 number, and they will collect information that will be sent to us," Marlow said. "We can reach out to them via phone or email to let them know our services are available free of charge."
MARCs were started in Missouri a few years ago, and Marlow said they are effective because people often don't know all the resources available to them after a natural disaster.
"In those stressful times, having everybody in one place is very helpful, because after a tornado or other disaster, you don't know where to start," Marlow said.
She added they did do some flood recovery assistance during these MARC events, but that was very preliminary work as disaster assessments will have to be done once the water levels go down, which won't happen for some time.
"We all could be one or two disasters away from being a person who has nothing, so we need to help our neighbors out," Marlow said.
Lane Angel, of Eldon, attended Saturday's MARC. He was in Lake Regional Hospital in Osage Beach when the tornado hit May 22. The next day, he came back to his apartment at Eldon Estates on Jones Avenue but could only get his medicine out since the damage the building sustained was deemed too severe for him to stay there. He said he found the MARC process helpful.
"Everything is coming along fine," Angel said. "I want to stay down here because this is my home. I grew up here."
Miller County Presiding Commissioner Tom Wright was on hand Saturday and thanked the agencies and volunteers for their service.
"I've been through flooding and ice storms, but this is the worst disaster I've been through since I've been in office," Wright said. "It's going to be a long time to get through this because everything is slow once you get into the recovery stage. It is not instant, and this was a big event. But, we're going to get through this because we are a small county, and small communities and we are very persistent."