The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 14, 2014

Tornado fund board hears grant requests

Trustees of the Joplin Tornado First Response Fund heard proposals Tuesday from 11 organizations for grant funding.

The board is to decide how to spend about $225,000 remaining in the fund in what may be the final round of grants. The fund was established shortly after the 2011 tornado to receive donations from those who wanted to give direct aid to Joplin for recovery.

The aid is intended to go to nonprofit or government agencies to provide relief to tornado victims, to rebuild and restore infrastructure, or to improve disaster preparedness, including the construction of tornado shelters.

A number of the grant requests heard Tuesday centered largely around three main themes: installing or procuring storm shelters for locations where groups of people gather; obtaining generators to power emergency operations; and helping people affected by the tornado establish or repair their credit worthiness and financial standing. Two requests were related to the latter.

Susan Hill and Kenny Davis of Consumer Credit Counseling told the board that their request for a $12,500 grant would pay for two years of credit and budget counseling for 200 to 300 people affected by the tornado. They said a large number of people who lost their homes or apartments did not have credit before the storm and find they need to establish credit references or improve their credit score to buy a house or rent an apartment now.

Davis said the credit organization worked with people formerly housed at the Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer parks and other temporary housing, using funding from other grant sources that are no longer available.

Representatives of Catholic Charities also said part of their work would be continuing assistance to storm survivors for credit repair and budgeting. Catholic Charities filed applications for two grants, for $102,000 and $230,000. One would be used to buy two lots and build two houses for storm victims, and provide rental assistance for those who have to pay higher rents than they can afford to fully pay on their own. The other would be used for the credit counseling services.

Grant requests to pay for generators were filed by both Freeman Health System and Lafayette House. Freeman asked for $130,000 to buy two portable generators on trailers that could be used to power its Urgent Care clinics in a storm or emergency when power is lost. A representative of Freeman, Lisa Nelson, said the units also could be lent for use by nursing homes, day care businesses or other community purposes.

A $75,000 request was filed by Lafayette House to buy a generator for power outages.

Allison Malinowski Sunday, executive director of Lafayette House, told the board that clients cannot go to public shelters when there is a power outage for safety reasons, and so Lafayette House needs to be equipped with a way to provide heat during emergencies.

Other grant requests:

• Howard Spiva of Missouri Medical Supply, formerly the Southwest Missouri Arthritis Association, asked for money to replace equipment that was lost by clients hit by the tornado. He asked for money to buy seven wheelchairs, though he did not mention the cost during his presentation to the board.

• Clifford Wert, of Victory Ministry and Sports Complex, said a $148,000 grant request was made to fund the construction of three storm shelters at the ministry, located at 32nd Street and Hammons Boulevard.

• Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity asked for $40,000 to build a house for a low-income family and $45,000 for 15 storm shelters for Habitat client homes.

• Martin Luther School and Immanuel Lutheran Church requested up to $150,000 for two storm shelter additions to the church school that also would be open to community use.

• Community Support Services sought $47,000 for storm shelter installation.

• Rebuild Joplin asked for $100,000 to rebuild and repair houses damaged by the tornado.

• New Creation Church requested $20,000 and $10,000 grants, one for after-school care of children affected by the tornado and one for a summer program for teenagers who come to Joplin from other locations to do home repairs that are not the result of tornado damage.

The board’s chairman, Phil Stinnett, said the board has several requests to fund the installation of shelters that the city is donating to community groups from former FEMA sites.

The board will meet again on Jan. 30 to discuss which requests it should fund.

Total donations

A TOTAL OF ABOUT $870,000 was donated to the fund in 2011 and 2012.

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