After the storm: Disaster case management

“No one knows when tragedy may strike. You are not alone! Don’t be afraid to accept the help that is offered. There is always a rainbow after the storm!” – Reggie and Akisha Walls

An EF-3 tornado damaged homes and other properties in Jefferson City and in Cole and Miller Counties, Missouri, in May 2019. It was followed by constant flooding through spring and summer, which hampered recovery efforts.

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri (CCCNMO) stepped up to assist those affected by providing disaster case management, leadership and coordination. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s (CDP) Midwest Early Recovery Fund provided CCCNMO with funding to ensure that survivors throughout the region received these critical services.

A couple whose apartment was destroyed by the tornado shared their experience with Joe Gamm of Jefferson City News Tribune. “I felt like we were at the bottom,” said Sarah Cobb. Justin Cobb added, “When we went in there, we were of the mentality that this was our last hope. We didn’t know what we were going to do.”

Gamm reported on the vital role that CCCNMO played in assisting the Cobbs on the road to recovery. “But they found compassion. … They met a CCCNMO disaster case manager. The case manager got on the phone with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and continued working on their case long after the project closed. She helped correct FEMA paperwork the couple had filled out incorrectly. And she stayed on their case.”

Disaster case managers (DCMs) walk families through disaster recovery. They compassionately listen to needs, support families as they create recovery plans and connect to resources available to assist. DCMs encourage, advocate and are allies for those whose lives have been turned upside down.

For Reggie and Akisha Walls (pictured), their journey to recovery included a River City Habitat for Humanity home. As they worked with their DCM on a recovery plan, they identified a utility in arrear as a barrier to qualifying for the home. Catholic Charities stepped in and financially alleviated the barrier, and the DCM connected them with a housing and financial counselor.

When the day came to close on their Habitat home, the Walls surprised friends, family and community members gathered to bless the home with a wedding. In a touching moment, they solidified their commitment to each other and their family on the threshold of their new home.

“With [CDP’s] grant, we were able to step into the lives of those impacted by the disaster and to communicate hope. Hope in action – providing an ear to listen, a recovery plan to move forward, and providing or locating resources to assist the households we work with each day to find self-sustainability, as well as their new normal.” – Alissa Marlow, Director of Community Services, CCCNMO

We are honored to support grantee partners like CCCNMO. They provide disaster case management and other recovery resources to communities affected by climate- and weather-related disasters in their coverage area.

(Photo source: Akisha Walls)