In meeting after meeting in the days and weeks after Hurricane Michael, FEMA officials emphasized the importance of local ownership of long-term recovery.

That local ownership will flow from the Citizens of Gulf County Recovery Team, the long-term recovery committee established to coordinate and collaborate with the many moving parts of recovery.

The team will host its first public community meeting 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. ET Saturday, March 30 in the Great Hall of Port St. Joe First United Methodist Church.

The meeting will focus on the board of directors of the recovery team, an all-volunteer board of local residents, and their opportunity to discuss the goals and mission of the team.

In addition, the board will report on ongoing efforts as well as the varied directions recovery will take the organization.

The public is encouraged to attend as well as those agencies which will be key to long-term recovery, such as faith-based, non-profit and government agencies.

Representatives from organizations such as FEMA, SBA, Catholic Charities, United Way, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), Project Hope (Life Management Center) and Capital Area Community Action Committee will be on hand to assist residents.

“You will also be able to sign up for committee participation,” said Vicki Abrams, the chair of the Citizens of Gulf County Recovery Team. “We want to have citizen participation as well as that of our organizations involved in the recovery of individuals and families.”

Abrams noted that while the committee is spearheaded by a “dedicated and hard-working board with active committee members” a bit of balance is required via “a robust membership of organizations that can ensure we reach the desired outcome.”

An early step for the committee is a community needs assessment.

Funded with seed money from the United Way, the community needs assessment will be conducted by World Renew, a faith-based international organization that has as one of its primary missions the response to natural disasters.

“(The upcoming public meeting) is an important meeting as we will discuss specifics of the upcoming community needs assessment to be conducted,” Abrams said. “The assessment will yield specific needs for individuals to be served by our many organizations.”

The Citizens of Gulf County Recovery Team emerged from a series of public meetings held earlier this year, with more than 100 people participating representing an array of organizations and interests with a common goal, recovery.

The goal of the committee is to maintain a network of organizations, faith-based, non-profit, governmental, business and others, while working toward a coordinated long-term recovery effort.

“This organization was established to serve as a collaborative for local organizations, working together to assist in the long-term recovery for individuals affected by Hurricane Michael,” Abrams said.

“The recovery team will work with member organizations to reduce the occurrence of duplication of services and to more effectively expedite services to individuals and families.”