Victims not forgotten five months after flooding - LancasterOnline: News

Victims not forgotten five months after flooding

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Posted: Friday, February 24, 2012 9:26 pm | Updated: 4:11 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

Waters from Tropical Storm Lee receded from Lancaster County in September, but the effects are still evident in hard-hit communities including Marietta and Manheim.

"Now, five months later, we still have no idea how many of (the residents) affected by the flooding still have unmet needs," Tim Brown, chairman of the Lancaster County Disaster Recovery Committee, said this week.

Brown said the committee seeks to assist an estimated 3,200 people who registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The goal is to meet the needs of those who suffered loss from Tropical Storm Lee and to prepare to respond to future disasters.

"It's not a question of 'if' there will be a disaster in the future, but 'when,' " Brown said.

The committee recruited volunteers to call about 1,300 FEMA registrants last Saturday. Calls were made from the county's Emergency Operations Center, based in the first block of South Charlotte Street, Manheim.

Volunteers will be organized to call another 1,300 people on March 17.

Also, 600 people in the Manheim area are being contacted by the Manheim Long-Term Recovery Committee.

Callers are asking whether people need help with construction costs, cleaning out buildings, mental health or spiritual support.

Brown said FEMA registrants do not need to wait to be contacted. They can call United Way-LINC at 211 or 291-5462. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

He said that by the end of March the DRC expects to "have a better handle on what the long-term disaster recovery effort will cost and what needs are out there. We can help connect people with resources."

Also, the county committee established a fund at the Lancaster County Community Foundation to accept money for flood victims.

Sam Bressi, president and CEO of the Lancaster County Community Foundation, said, "There are families today still suffering from the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Lee. When the flood waters rushed in in September, their homes were destroyed, livelihoods interrupted and precious memories lost.

"Six months later, we have not forgotten about these families. We've helped establish the Disaster Recovery Fund so that every dollar that passes through the Community Foundation goes directly to aid the families still in need, and there is a permanent resource for any future victims of disaster in Lancaster County."

Two lives were lost in Lancaster County when it was pounded by Tropical Storm Lee. Lancaster and six other counties in the lower Susquehanna River valley were declared federal disaster areas.

Brown said that within a week or two of the flooding, members of the community and faith-based organizations throughout the county held their first meeting to "determine what the long-term relief effort should look like."

The organizations have met weekly since September.

Brown said the groups, in addition to the ones mentioned above, include Habitat for Humanity, Lutheran Disaster Response, American Red Cross, Love from Lancaster County, the Salvation Army, Disability Empowerment Center, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Mennonite Disaster Service, Brethren Disaster Ministries, Conoy Brethren in Christ and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

Volunteers interested in helping with the telephone campaign may call Habitat for Humanity at 392-8836 or email volunteer@lancasterhabitat.org. Training will be provided.

Organizations and individuals interested in providing donations of money and materials should contact Bob Walton, DRC Treasurer, at 203-9199 or email rgwalton@verizon.net.

Donations may be sent to the Lancaster County Community Foundation, 52 W. James St., Lancaster, PA 17603, or online at www.lancfound.org and designated for Disaster Recovery.

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