By Zack Osborn, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
The efforts of United Methodist Committee on Relief in Mississippi after the Dec. 23 tornado, are mentioned in a recent report that is being shared courtesy of the 'Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.'
HOLLY SPRINGS - After FEMA and MEMA left the disaster-ridden Holly Springs following the Dec. 23 tornado, a group of citizens converged to fulfill the unmet needs of those still without homes.
William B. Scott, chairman of the Marshall County Recovery Committee, kicked off a fundraiser on Friday to raise funds for the rebuilding of homes. They need approximately $950,000 for full recovery.
The Bank of Holly Springs, a 147-year-old establishment, felt obligated to get involved with the recovery, so they made an initial donation of $50,000 to start the ground work.
"After FEMA had done all it could do for the people, we discovered that there are needs beyond that FEMA couldn't supply," Scott said. "For example, when people registered with FEMA at the disaster center, they had to check whether or not they had homeowner's insurance. If that was insufficient, FEMA suggested they apply for the Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Loan."
Marshall County selected a group of citizens to see the project to completion. Once they met with MEMA, they contracted United Methodist Committee of Relief (UMCOR) to handle the case management.
UMCOR hired and trained case managers to assess and evaluate the damage beyond what FEMA could do.
MEMA also suggested to create an executive committee with subcommittees for volunteer coordination, building supply coordination and unmet needs coordination called the finance committee.
The committee decides, based on all the information, the amount of money to give out, Scott said.
If the insurance payments are insufficient, the recovery team will be able to buy the materials to rebuild the homes. Approximately 10 construction groups will rebuild the homes for free if the materials are purchased.
In the three-county area of Northeast Mississippi the tornado devastated -- Marshall, Benton and Tippah -- FEMA made over 30 grants with a maximum of $33,000 per household. Marshall County received the most grants as most of the damage occurred in the area.
"The biggest problem we have is getting people to fill out those SBA applications," Scott said. "After many disasters, there are millions of dollars of recovery money on the table because people don't want to deal with the work."
From the date a disaster is declared, there is a 60-day window for people to get registered with FEMA.
"That 60-day window closes on March 4," Scott said. "Because the foot traffic has dropped, FEMA shut down the disaster centers on Feb. 3. They can complete their registration online until March 4."
For those who want to donate, send a check written out to Marshall County Disaster Relief Fund to Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District, P.O. Box 600, Booneville, MS, 38829.