Making a difference with Disaster Case Management

In the early morning of July 20, 2020, five inches of rain fell in St. Joseph, Missouri. The rain came very quickly, and a debris jam on Contrary Creek blocked water flow. Residents were forced to evacuate as streets, basements and homes filled with water. The floodwater impacted more than 250 households and displaced 180 families.

Because of the scale of the disaster, no federal or state funds were available to help individuals and households recover. Because of their location away from the floodplain and income levels, many did not have flood insurance. These households relied on the generosity and skills of family, neighbors, faith groups, local nonprofits and government leaders as they worked to get back home.

In August 2020, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Midwest Early Recovery Fund awarded $60,000 to Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph (CCKCSJ) to provide disaster case management. CCKCSJ’s disaster case manager (DCM) met with families to identify their needs and help connect them with resources available in the community.

When the case manager first met with George*, a 74-year-old veteran of Native American heritage, whose wife, Amy* is disabled, the situation was overwhelming. There was substantial damage to the floors, floor joists, cabinets, electrical wiring, appliances, plumbing, drywall and insulation.

Living with relatives nearby until their home was repaired, George planned, with the help of a family member, to do the repairs on the home himself. However, they could not afford the materials and were struggling to continue to make house payments. A DCM worked with George and Amy to ask the lender to lower house payments for three months to assist them with recovery.

The Disaster Recovery Construction Team of the Journey Baptist Church in south St. Joseph conducted a damage assessment to determine the extent of the damage and the materials needed to make repairs. The United Way coordinated work as the lead agency with Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, InterServ, Community Action Partnership and the City of St. Joseph.

The materials needed to complete the repairs were purchased through generous donations and CCKCSJ. Because of the community collaboration and the DCM, the George completed necessary repairs and moved back into their home.

Disaster case managers continue to provide critical support in communities affected by disasters. Hundreds of families can return home because of their advocacy and kindhearted care. CDP is proud to support organizations like Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph to provide disaster case management with excellence and compassion.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

(Photo source: Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph)