The Citizens of Gulf County Long-Term Recovery Committee received what one might call the green light last week.
With incorporation already in hand, the committee, all volunteers until this month, is officially a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.
That, more than anything, places the committee into a position to receive grants, state and federal, already flowing or about to flow in response to Hurricane Michael.
“That is excellent news,” said Nancy Stuart.
For example, Stuart was recently hired as the executive director of the committee, funded under a grant from the Presbytery Disaster Assistance.
The committee also hired, using grants funds, Eddie Fields, long employed with the Christian Community Development Fund (CCDF), as the new construction coordinator.
Further, the Jessie Ball duPont Foundation Capacity Fund recently provided grant funding which will allow the committee to purchase a weather-proof storage facility (think small airplane hangar).
Through a lease agreement with the Port St. Joe Port Authority, the storage facility will be placed in the northeast corner of the former Arizona Chemical property, which the Port Authority owns.
“That’s a big deal for us,” Stuart said. “That allows us to bring in large amounts of wood and building materials, appliances.”
In addition, Stuart said the committee would soon be receiving grant funding to begin community roofing projects under a “Blue Tarp Project.”
Stuart also said Samaritan’s Purse and the Committee were in discussions to perform three to five complete home rebuilds in the county after the first of the year.
“You guys are going great work,” said Mayor Rex Buzzett. “We know you are working hard.”
The recipients of those rebuilds would be based on need, a policy the Long-Term Recovery Committee is close to finalizing.
St. Vincent de Paul America will be in the community this week as it begins its disaster assistance.
St. Vincent’s goal would be to have three to four case managers in the community.
Stuart said they are currently seeking office space.
The organization will work with the Long Term Recovery Committee, Catholic Charities and UMCOR on case management, examining individual needs and how best to meet them.
The question is the level of unmet needs.
A survey was undertaken early this year by World Renew but the consensus was that it ha only tipped the iceberg.
And the price tag on what the survey did reveal was nearly $10 million.
The immediate step is to compare the World Renew survey with final FEMA statistics to see how the two match-up.
“We feel like we are on the cusp of having boots on the ground,” Stuart said.