KEARNEY — Those who lost property or possessions in the July 9 flood are encouraged to visit a free one-stop Multi-Agency Resource Center site this week to learn about available help and sign up for assistance.
Sites will be open noon-7 p.m. Wednesday at The Salvation Army at 1719 Central Ave., and noon-7 p.m. Friday on the ground floor of the Nebraskan Student Union at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Also at the two sites, food, clean-up kits and other items will be available and distributed on the spot to those who need them.
“People can come fill out paperwork and understand what’s available, say, for those who have no job, their car got flooded and doesn’t work, or they need housing assistance, things like that,” said Judi Sickler, president and chief executive officer of the Kearney Area Community Foundation. She is among numerous people assisting with flood relief.
Information available at the sessions will be critical for anyone who suffered losses in the flood, said Darrin Lewis, Buffalo County’s emergency manager.
“We know a lot of people don’t have flood insurance, but if they don’t, that doesn’t mean the state or federal government will come in and give them money,” Lewis said. “The government doesn’t do that. Most of the funding for recovery will have to come from donations and from faith-based groups.”
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He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will give small-business loans and grants to help people recover, but to qualify for those funds, “flooding has to reach a certain level. You may not qualify unless the water was over your wall outlets,” Lewis said.
Trained caseworkers will help people create personal recovery plans, navigate paperwork and locate assistance for their specific needs.
Agencies will be available that may help with debris removal, rebuilding and repair of homes. People can meet with agencies for referrals, especially if a family is not eligible for government assistance or if that assistance is inadequate to meet long-term needs.
Those applying for assistance must bring identification showing address and proof of residence.
Many assistance organizations have strict income guidelines. Some work only with people who are under the poverty level. “Some other organizations will help no matter how much or little you make. If they can help, say, with a hot water heater or drywall replacement costs, they will.”
He added, “We have all sorts of different avenues. We can help in certain ways. For example, a faith-based church organization may come in and help clean your basement,” Lewis said. “But people must understand that even if they have a need that grant money might help, they’re not going to walk out of there with a check. That’s important to emphasize.”
Decisions about funding and resources will be made later by members of Community Organizations Assisting in Disasters, a large locally-based group that assists with long-term recovery, Lewis said.
“They will look at all paperwork they gather, so it is important to get those who need help signed up and registered. COAD will filter through the information, assess the damage and costs and help the people who need it,” he said.
Details of this week’s sessions were finalized Friday at a meeting of nearly 30 people led by Lewis in his office at the Buffalo County Courthouse.
Attendees included representatives from The Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, United Way of the Kearney Area, the Kearney Area Community Foundation, the Kearney Visitors Bureau, the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, officials from Kearney and Buffalo County, UNK and more.