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Long-term tornado recovery committee looks to future

T-R FILE PHOTO - Organizational leaders work on committee assignments at the first Marshalltown Tornado Long-Term Recovery meeting in August 2018.

A group of local non-profits, government agencies, businesses, churches and other organizations banded together in the weeks after the July 19 tornado to help victims however possible.

Since it’s formation in August, the Marshalltown Tornado Long-Term Recovery Committee and its subgroups have been working on connecting tornado victims with needed resources.

“We are working on the goals that we have set, and we’re always continuing to re-evaluate those,” said one of the committee’s three co-chairs and Marshalltown Area United Way Executive Director Nancy Steveson. “We have eight committees, and they’re all covering various aspects, so they’re re-evaluating what they’re doing, how they’re doing it and what we need to do in order to continue to move forward.”

Those eight subcommittees focus on construction, case advocacy and management, volunteer management, communication/information technology, finance/donations and in-kind, housing and building, spiritual/emotional/mental health and community assessment/data management.

Communications co-chair and Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA Director Carol Hibbs said the committee’s work has changed slightly since the first weeks after the tornado.

“We were kind of in emergency-crisis mode the first few months, assessing the damage, assessing what next steps would be, especially for housing, and then assessing what resources are available,” she said.

Now, she said the committee has been focused on helping with access to resources and implementation of programs to help people impacted by the tornado.

One example of a program helping people is case management from Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA). Case managers work to get tornado victims connected with helpful agencies and organizations, depending on what needs they have. Prior to Oct. 29, 2018, the case managers also helped qualified people access state grant funding to help with house repairs and other needs.

“Anyone who was in case management before Oct. 29 (2018), they’re still able to access any funding that was obligated to them through the state grant or the MICA donation,” said Clarissa Thompson of MICA. “If they’re new, like they never came in before, we will help them access any community resources that they may be eligible for, such as VALOR or anything with community partners.”

The committee has been working with the Voluntary Agencies Leading and Organizing Repairs (VALOR) program, which has been helping homeowners in Marshalltown make emergency house repairs since late last year.

Steveson said another area of work that has come up in the months since the tornado is helping some victims deal with post-traumatic stress from the storm. She said members of the mental health subgroup have been reaching out to help people in such a situation.

“A lot of their work is they’re going door-to-door and just trying to talk to people and say ‘How are you doing?’ and ‘Is there anything we can do to help you?’ in a very informal way,” Steveson said.

She and Hibbs said one major focus of the committee going into the next six months will be addressing needs that have so far been unmet. They said the best way for people to get help is to go to MICA and talk to a case worker. The case management program is currently set to end May 31, Thompson said.

To get in touch with MICA’s case management program, call 641-485-3596 or visit the program’s location at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1011 S. Third Ave.

Steveson said the committee may not be able to solve every issue brought up, but said it helps to know what needs are still out there.