After investments that included stationing a company executive in Joplin for eight months last year, officials with Farmers Insurance said the company will continue its post-tornado commitment to Joplin in 2014.
“We’re going to stay until the end,” said Doris Dunn, director of community relations for the company, on Wednesday. “That includes sending in another 100-plus volunteers and making some additional financial investments.”
She said the commitment of volunteers and money will be made in conjunction with Rebuild Joplin, which was the recipient of the company’s investments last year.
“We’re ecstatic about the continued partnership with Farmers; it means we will really be able to finish this job,” said Thomas Corley, director of development for Rebuild Joplin. “Our intent is to complete residential recovery this year, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of Farmers and their volunteers.”
The organization has rebuilt or renovated 122 properties since the tornado.
“We’ve done eight this year, and our goal is to complete 70 by the end of the year, so we have 62 more to complete,” Corley said.
During 2013, Farmers sent nearly 200 employee volunteers who spent nearly 8,000 hours helping in the rebuilding effort. The company this year will send additional employee volunteers to help rebuild homes as Joplin “crosses the finish line to full recovery,” Dunn said.
Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance Group, said the company “is honored to extend our commitment to the city of Joplin until it is fully rebuilt and restored.”
“Of all that Farmers Insurance has accomplished as a company in 2013, I’m most proud of our work in Joplin,” he said.
Employees will be deployed in Joplin in small volunteer groups, starting in April, and will remain until December. The company on Wednesday “started putting out the word for volunteers,” Dunn said, and Farmers expects its employees will work more than 8,500 volunteer hours this year in Joplin.
Dunn, based in Los Angeles, said she made about six trips to Joplin last year and that she may be among that first volunteer group.
“There’s something about a small town that really makes an impact on you,” she said. “And then going through town and meeting people, and having total strangers that come up and thank you for your work. You can’t help getting involved.”
Last year, Farmers paid travel and lodging costs for workers who volunteered in Joplin. That will continue, along with other financial help from the company, Dunn said.
The type and amount of financial support will be determined in discussions with Rebuild Joplin. Financial support last year amounted to about $160,000, in addition to a fleet of vehicles and trailers.
WHILE IN JOPLIN, Farmers Insurance officials have documented the recovery steps to develop “best practices” that will become part of a Disaster Relief Recovery Plan. The playbook will be offered to other communities in the aftermath of disasters.