- Disaster Assistance refers to the process of responding to a catastrophic situation, providing humanitarian aid to persons and communities who have suffered from some form of disaster. It involves dealing with and avoiding risks and preparing, supporting, and rebuilding society when natural or human-made disasters occur.
The Function of our Disaster Assistance Team:
- Supports Disaster Recovery Centers known as Multi-Agency Assistance Centers (MARC)
- Supports Regional Rapid Response Teams
- Provides Disaster Case Management to Impacted Families
- Assists with Long Term Recovery Efforts
- Furnishes Homes Through the House in the Box® Program
Our core values are:
RESPECT - Demonstrated by the belief that all people are children of God.
TOLERANCE - Demonstrated by recognition of our own imperfections and the imperfections of others.
SPIRITUALITY - Demonstrated by our faith in God, hope for our future, and love of all people.
JUSTICE - Demonstrated by advocacy for issues affecting the poor.
DIGNITY - Demonstrated by the respect with which we treat people.
EMPOWERMENT - Demonstrated by teaching self-sufficiency and life skills.
STEWARDSHIP - Demonstrated by prudent use of all resources, respecting the wishes of donors.
COMPASSION - Demonstrated by empathy, understanding, and ministries of hospitality
Disasters do not discriminate, nor do we. We are diverse. We are inclusive. We help everyone possible under our program. If you are in need of assistance, contact the local St. Vincent de Paul Conference. Contact numbers are listed on the tab "Request Assistance".
We are constantly growing our members to be able to support in Multi Agency Resource Centers (MARC) and to engage directly with our neighbors who are suffering loss due to a catastrophic event. There is role for our Vincentian members.
Come join our team!
For more information on how you can help, contact our Council Disaster Assistance Coordinator, Nancy Bergeron - firstname.lastname@example.org
Article for Disasater Services Corp. Newsletter (August 20, 2018)
Vincentians Come Together in Stephenson County, Illinois
Susan Wiland, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Rockford Council President
The Pecatonica River, a 194 mile tributary of the Rock River flows through northern Illinois, through Freeport and Pearl City. The word Pecatonica is the English form of two Algonquian Indian language words which means "slow", and niba, which means "water", forming the conjunction Bekaaniba or "Slow Water". It was anything but slow in July 2017.
In July, in the Freeport and Pearl City area, the Pecatonica River crested at 15.86 feet after heavy rainfall and high winds. It left many residents on the east side of town with flooded homes and structural damage. Many homes were uninhabitable causing those homeowners to find shelters or alternative housing.
On August 4 the emergency response commenced with the opening of a MARC (Multi-Agency Resource Center) at the local high school. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Central District members in the Rockford Diocese manned the center, recorded each household that visited the table, and distributed Walmart gift cards. 187 households visited our table that day.
The logical next step was that the local community organizations would band together to continue the task of assisting in longer term disaster assistance, i.e. assessing the damage and identifying funding opportunities. All of the local community organizations knocked on every door and assisted in one way or another, mucking out basements, replacing furnaces and water heaters, providing mold remediation kits, food, and financial assistance. Sadly, there was no further community assistance available long term and these 187 households continued to fend for themselves.
In September 2017, the Rockford Council began to make follow up calls to all persons on our list to determine the priority of their unmet needs. Of these 187, 34 were identified as emergency or high priority cases. Our one and only Disaster Case Manager, from the Peoria Council, began the arduous task of long term case management, tackling the emergency cases first. This continued until February 2018 where St. Vincent de Paul financially assisted two households.
Now fast forward to May 2018. Our only Disaster Case Manager was redirected to Watseka, Illinois where another flooding disaster had also occurred. So, long term case management in Freeport and Pearl City were abandoned. Our regional coordinator met with the emergency assistance manager and a couple of local organizations to follow up on the status of these households to solicit additional support. They were not aware of any households that required additional assistance.
Again, our Vincentian community stepped it up. 13 Disaster Case Managers were trained and assigned cases. All 187 households were called to identify those who still had unmet needs. Of these 187, 34 were identified as having unmet needs.
The team is now in the process of making home visits to further assess the needs of these flood victims. We have identified 16 households with structural damage and have reached out to Belfor, a disaster recovery company, to assess the damage. The other 18 households are in need of appliances and other miscellaneous items.
In parallel, we continue to coordinate our efforts with the local VOAD in Stephenson County in the hopes that we will be able to make a difference in the victims’ lives.
We live by our Vincentian spirituality and know that no one person is exempt from our help. This is who we are. We make no distinction in those we serve because we see the face of Christ. And, these families are very grateful for our caring and have an optimism that has diminished over the last year.