Teaming up for relief

United Way to combine forces with MICA, other entities in long-term recovery committee

T-R FILE PHOTO - The Salvation Army, one of the Marshalltown Area United WayÕs partners, has seen a lot of volunteer help since the tornado damaged not only much of the north side of town, but also the Salvation ArmyÕs State Street location. These volunteers helped sort donated clothes at the 13th Street thrift store location. From left: Juliana Arifi, Jacque Follmer and Danielle Platt.

Support flooded into Marshalltown in the immediate aftermath of the July 19 tornado, and now the Marshalltown Area United Way is focusing on the long-term recovery of impacted residents.

“We have three co-chairs, one being myself, then Arlene McAtee from MICA (Mid-Iowa Community Action) and then Paul Daniels, who is the director of Center Associates,” said local United Way Director Nancy Steveson of the Marshalltown Tornado Long-Term Recovery Committee.

She said there are many local agencies that continue to provide relief and other services to tornado victims. The large number and variety of those agencies, Steveson said, means it is important for a more “cohesive,” combined effort to be made.

She said there are existing efforts to focus on small businesses and infrastructure hit by the tornado, and the United Way’s efforts will focus on affected residents.

“We want to pull everybody together so that we’re working cohesively together and know what everybody else is doing,” she said. “Our focus will be on the funds that we’re receiving both from MICA and through United Way — 100 percent of that money will go to the victims, the families, that were affected by the tornado.”

As far as funding, Steveson said the United Way has received about $180,000 in donations for storm relief, with more expected soon. Once United Way and MICA combine their fundraising efforts, she said MICA will do tornado victim intake and direct them to the services they may need and qualify for through the Iowa Grant.

“The other moneys that we’ve received … will be used for those people who didn’t qualify for whatever reason,” Steveson said. “As other needs might be identified, the money might go to the families in a different fashion that we haven’t identified yet.”

She said United Way partner agencies, like the Salvation Army and House of Compassion, continue to provide services to tornado victims.

The long term committee co-chairs met for the first time earlier this week. A larger-scale meeting is schedule for 4 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Fisher Community Center auditorium, 709 S. Center St.

“We’ll be having another meeting next week and breaking off into committees so that we identify major areas in the community that need to be addressed,” Steveson said. “There are so many people who want to be involved, we’re going to have them pick a category they want to be involved with.”

She said there have been about 16 identified categories related to tornado relief, including areas like case management, infrastructure and mental health. Once the sub-committees are formed, leaders will be identified from each.

“This is going to be a long-term committee, it will probably meet for a couple years, at least, if not longer,” Steveson said. “For instance, we know housing is a major issue we have to figure out along with the powers that be.”

Along with interested individuals and agencies, she said the committee will work with local government to bring relief and provide services. Steveson also said the committee will seek advice from people who have suffered through disasters before.

Along with tornado-related planning, Steveson said the United Way and partner agencies are still gearing up for the annual campaign. The fundraising target of $468,000 has not changed because of the storm.

“We have set a goal, we set that in June, and we’re sticking with it,” she said. “Many of our agencies were impacted by the storm … Those are basic services that are still critical, people still need those.”

Examples of such agencies include the heavily damaged Senior Citizens Center and Marshall County Youth and Shelter Services (YSS).

The co-chairs for this year’s fundraising campaign are Marshalltown Police Capt. Chris Jones and Marshall County Sheriff Steve Hoffman.

The kickoff event is set for noon Sept. 12, also at the Fisher Community Center auditorium. For more information or to donate to tornado relief efforts, visit https://www.unitedwaymarshalltown.org

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com