United Methodist relief agency to help FEMA with case management
Oct. 27, 2005
|File photo courtesy of the Department of Defense
Gulf Coast evacuees relax at a temporary shelter in San Antonio. FEMA has asked UMCOR to assist with evacuee case management.
By Linda Beher*
NEW YORK (UMNS) — Eight weeks after Hurricane Katrina displaced more
than a million Gulf Coast residents, United Methodist Committee on
Relief officials said the agency will lead a consortium of providers in a
two-year case management grant worth $66 million.
The agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency will benefit
300,000 people scattered by the winds throughout the 50 states.
Survivors often have a tough time knowing their rights and understanding
the daunting application process, federal officials said. Using a
review panel, UMCOR will select up to 12 other agencies with expertise
in disaster response to help these vulnerable citizens become
self-sustaining. FEMA will supervise the implementation of the grant.
In its lead role, UMCOR represents a broad-based coalition known as
NVOAD — the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. NVOAD
members are both secular and faith-based organizations. UMCOR plans to
choose consortium members from NVOAD as well as from other sources.
UMCOR’s specialty in long-term disaster response is case management,
which covers the whole spectrum of listening, documenting, connecting
survivors with services, helping survivors make individual action plans,
and leading all toward self-sufficiency and recovery.
The United Methodist agency’s role will be to coordinate, monitor and
report on the work of 3,000 professional and volunteer case managers in
the delivery of services to people who were living in Alabama,
Louisiana, or Mississippi when Hurricane Katrina displaced them. A core
group of paid workers will supervise teams of trained volunteers. All
agencies to be considered as partners have proven experience in the case
“The program will complement, not duplicate, ongoing government
efforts,” said the Rev. Paul Dirdak, UMCOR’s chief executive. The grant
is the largest ever received by UMCOR, he added. “FEMA turned to UMCOR
because of our competence in this sector and their confidence that we
can provide accountability.”
The diaspora forced by Hurricane Katrina extends to all 50 states and
Puerto Rico. Partners in the consortium will have broad geographical
reach, established referral networks and high standards of care. Formal
requests for proposals are being released this week, Dirdak said.
The Rev. Paul Dirdak
Every network member will have access to case files through a unified
reporting system. For survivors, that’s good news. They will avoid the
emotional turmoil of multiple intake interviews and be able to receive
assistance quickly. Consortium members will be able to easily identify
unmet needs and duplication of services. At the same time, clients will
be assured of confidentiality, a primary component of empowerment.
“Case management is a concrete way to assure that disaster survivors who
require long-term assistance will achieve self-sufficiency, strong
families and cohesive communities,” Dirdak explained.
The usually unsung case manager has the potential to spell the
difference between a chaotic response full of duplications — or worse,
full of gaps — and fair, equitable treatment of survivors as they resume
normal life, he said.
To accelerate the pace of outreach, the consortium will allocate small grants to grass-roots organizations aiding the evacuees.
Gifts from United Methodists and other private donors will help fund
these grants so that communities will have capacity to continue case
management beyond the two years envisioned by the proposal. UMCOR is
also providing private disaster recovery resources to its own voluntary
networks in the Gulf Coast disaster zone.
*Beher is the communications officer for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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