Last month, the St. Louis region experienced heavy rains that led to significant flooding. Many of our neighbors were impacted and looking for help with a variety of needs, such as temporary shelter, assistance for debris removal and clean up, and access to food, water, and other basic items.
During times of disaster throughout our century of serving the region, United Way has been there to step up and lend a helping hand to our neighbors in need. Thanks to the generous support of our community and the steadfast work of local partners, we were able to quickly mobilize agencies and resources so that people knew where to turn and how to get help. United Way plays a critical role in mobilizing the community after a local disaster and here are four examples of how we helped during this flooding incident.
United Way 2-1-1
Following the devastating impacts of the flood, those affected immediately turned to United Way’s 2-1-1 navigation center as the region’s front door for information reporting and data gathering. Through 2-1-1, we were able to immediately start capturing disaster intakes from impacted residents, reporting damages and flood impacts in real time to local, regional and state emergency management agencies. In parallel, 2-1-1 provided critical information to people needing information about available shelters, food, flood clean up and home repair assistance, transportation, and more. Within the first 24 hours of the flooding, 2-1-1 received over 200 requests for help. After the first four weeks post-flood, requests had increased to more than 14,000.
Additionally, as the central disaster intake line, 2-1-1 creates an efficient way for people to express their needs and to register for short and long-term assistance. To date, more than 4,800 families have submitted disaster intake forms, allowing United Way and partners to better understand what the needs are and how best to address them, as well as providing pertinent data to emergency management to aid them in requesting federal disaster assistance.
Flood Relief Fund
In times of disaster, monetary support from our community is paramount. Quickly following the start of the flooding, United Way leveraged our network of corporate partners and individuals to launch our flood relief funds, raising over $350,000.
Through the fund, we are providing immediate relief efforts for emergency shelters and feeding operations, food for first responders and volunteers in the field, clean-up efforts and supplies, as well as preparing for long-term outreach efforts for those experiencing major damage or impacts.
We are grateful to this community for their continued commitment to stepping up when needed, including those who have contributed to our Flood Relief Fund: the Regional Business Council, American Metals Supply, Cass Information Systems and Cass Commercial Bank, Commerce Bancshares Foundation and William T. Kemper Foundation, CVS Health, Enterprise, Holman, Mississippi Lime, Regions Bank, RGA Foundation, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues and Wells Fargo Advisors.
In addition, the funding will be allocated to Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD) to assist with recovery and case management efforts. COADs are a collaboration of crisis responding organizations that convene during times of crisis to mobilize agency response, identify, and fill gaps and to coordinate with local, regional and statewide responders.
During times of disaster, people want to help and give back. Through our Volunteer Center, we connected people with opportunities to lend their time and support to helping people recover. Also, because we’ve built up a database of volunteers willing to jump in during an emergency, we could quickly and efficiently share out urgent volunteer needs, like cleanup efforts. Agencies were also able to request disaster relief volunteers and, dependent upon the need, we mobilized our supporters to volunteer and help out.
Our community’s willingness to help a neighbor in need is always strong during times like these and we saw that kind of generosity once again. In the week following the flood, nearly 200 people volunteered through our Volunteer Center’s disaster relief opportunities.
Multi-Agency Resource Centers
Following the flooding, United Way supported multiple MARCs (Multi Agency Resource Centers) across the flood impact zones. In particular, United Way and partners identified a strong area of needs for residents in East St. Louis. Partnering with the American Red Cross and other Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COADs), United Way led efforts to host a two-day Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) at East St. Louis Senior High School where nearly two dozen local nonprofits and government agencies provided food, cleaning supplies and other immediate assistance to almost 500 local families.
United Way will continue to provide support to help those who have been impacted by the flood. Those who still need help with non-emergency needs should call 2-1-1 or visit 211helps.org
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Rodney Humphries is the communications specialist for United Way of Greater St. Louis and a proud graduate of Webster University where he developed his passion for writing. In college, he combined his love for writing and sports, serving as the primary sports writer for his school newspaper while also developing his own sports blog. After graduating, he continued his love for writing as he served as a freelance writer for various publications. Rodney continues to be a fan of Webster athletics, you will often see him sitting courtside at a lot of their basketball games.