Recovering from Christmas Floods

On December 31, 2015, holiday decorations seem out of place on a flooded street in Arnold, MO.
Midwest Flooding
A canoe navigates a flooded street, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Arnold, Mo.
CDP awards grants to support outreach and services for Missouri’s most vulnerable

Cleaning up the day after Christmas took on a completely different meaning in Missouri this past December. Following two months of heavy rainfall, record river crests resulted in one of the largest and most costly winter floods in Missouri history. More than 7000 structures were damaged or destroyed in St Louis County alone, just one of the 33 counties devastated by the floods.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Midwest Early Recovery Fund has been working closely with state, county, and local jurisdictions, non-profit partners, and FEMA in Missouri to identify gaps in services to help the most vulnerable individuals receive the support they need.
In response to the Missouri floods, the Fund has made three grants totaling $182,595.71 to organizations supporting the needs of children and families, outreach and education, and the development of early recovery services. The grantees include:

  • Art Feeds received a $3500 grant to provide a therapeutic mural curriculum to 600 Noel elementary students to aid in their recovery process and mental and emotional wellness. Noel, in southwest Missouri’s McDonald County, sustained over $1.2 million in damages with 85 homes and 27 businesses damaged or destroyed. McDonald County has one of the most diverse populations in the state, with a majority of the population from Mexico, Somalia, Sudan, Micronesia, Kenya, Laos, Myanmar, and Ethiopia. Thirteen languages are spoken in their school district. Noel students will participate in the production of a collaborative mural using Storytelling Webs to illustrate how every voice matters, Small Group Brainstorming to highlight that each person is creative, and Community Collaboration to emphasize that something beautiful is possible when the group works together. This mural will then be installed in downtown Noel as a symbol of recovery and resilience.
  • AmeriCorps St Louis received a grant of $110,000 to develop a new and innovative pilot, The Bridge to Recovery. This program combines state and local government resources with voluntary and faith-based organizational efforts, homeowner assistance, as well as donated resources, to support work and services essential to protecting public health and safety and safeguarding property. This program is targeted at particularly vulnerable and at-risk households. It is intended to provide targeted assistance to affected residences, thereby reducing the demand for other longer-term transitional shelter assistance and allow individuals to return to and remain in their homes. This Early Recovery program brings together the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the American Red Cross, Seventh Day Adventists Disaster Relief, and Civil Design Inc.
  • The Jefferson County COAD in partnership with Jefferson County Community Partnership and the Salvation Army of Jefferson County, received a grant of $69,095.71 to hire, train and supervise a full-time, long-term disaster recovery community coordinator (DRCC). The DRCC will work to coordinate the efforts of the Jefferson County COAD to ensure the most vulnerable of those impacted by the floods are identified and resources developed to meet their recovery needs. Nearly 50 percent of the 2500 homes severely damaged or destroyed by the ‘Christmas floods’ were in Jefferson County, just south of St. Louis County. Jefferson County has a large vulnerable population who live in trailers or older, fragile housing stock.

CDP is also working with additional partners to develop resources for families and children. Those grants are expected to be awarded in the next few months. Please contact Nancy Beers at if you have any questions or want to learn more about our Early Recovery Fund work.
The Midwest Early Recovery Fund was created in late 2014 to efficiently and effectively allocate money to organizations supporting the needs of vulnerable populations within communities affected by low attention disasters in the Midwest, using a unique ‘clip-board’ grant-making process. The fund responds to natural disasters in ten states and makes grants to community based organizations and national disaster partners for community services support and disaster training, education, and outreach. Since the fund launched in early 2015, we have awarded nearly $900,000 to community based organizations in places like Sand Springs, Oklahoma, DeWitt, Nebraska, and the Crow Creek Reservation, South Dakota.

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