Since Hurricane Irma blew a neighbor’s tree onto her home last fall, one Glynn County woman has yet to repair three large holes in her roof.
Another elderly resident hasn’t had electricity in the back half of her house since Hurricane Matthew damaged her home in 2016. She also has structural damage she hasn’t been able to repair.
These are just some of the unmet needs that Janelle Harvey, volunteer and community service coordinator for United Way of Coastal Georgia, has seen recently in her work to help the community recover from past hurricanes.
“What we don’t know is how much damage is still there,” Harvey said.
Seeing this local need, a national disaster response group has offered to help.
World Renew Disaster Response Services, a faith-based organization that provides a wide range of support in areas hit by storms, will be in Glynn County for the next two weeks to conduct a community needs assessment.
“It’s going to be looking at where there are still unmet needs in the community,” Harvey said.
Volunteers, who will travel in pairs, will canvass the county and go door-to-door to assess the damages yet to be repaired since Hurricanes Matthew and Irma came through the area in 2016 and 2017. Walk-in centers will also be set up at the Community Action Authority, 1 Community Action Drive, and at Zion Baptist Church, 1611 G Street, where people who still have storm damage can come register.
“People will be able to come in and just explain their situation,” Harvey said.
The Community Action Authority station will be set up today through July 27, and volunteers will be on-hand from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Zion Baptist Church station will be open July 24 to July 26, and the times have yet to be confirmed.
After two weeks of assessment, the World Renew group will assemble a database for local officials to use to continue addressing these unmet needs.
“This is huge for our community in terms of the value,” Harvey said. “This is just their mission. We are not being charged a penny for it.”
The team’s leaders, who arrived in town Thursday, met Friday morning with Harvey and other local hurricane response leaders. The group looked over a map of Glynn County that showed a survey of damage taken immediately after Hurricane Irma in September. Red dots signified damaged areas. Some of the hardest hit areas included downtown Brunswick, low-income communities around the county and the Sea Palms neighborhood on St. Simons Island.
“You’re going to see quite a few tarps out there,” Jay Wiggins, director of Glynn County’s Emergency Management Agency, told the World Renew team leaders. “There are a lot of homes that still have tarps on them.”
Using the database, United Way will be able to present cases and help coordinate allocations of money for repairs.
“We know that people are still suffering from Irma,” said Virginia Brown, president and CEO of the local United Way. “We just don’t know the depth of it.”
Many of the people who still have damage from the hurricanes are low-income, elderly or disabled, Brown said.
“We’re seeing that these are individuals that are already in great need,” she said. “They have day-to-day needs, and now they can’t fully recover because they’re just living day to day as it is. This is a great opportunity to have World Renew come in — they’re experienced, they’re trained, they’re efficient.”
Wiggins thanked the World Renew volunteers for coming to Glynn County.
“We appreciate it so much … There’s still a lot of affected people here in Glynn County,” he said. “Anything y’all can do to help will be greatly appreciated.”