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Ongoing coverage of South Carolina's recovery from the flooding of 2015.What had been Lindsay Langdale's Columbia home October 3, 2015 was a flooded ruin the next day.This coverage is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In October of 2015, South Carolina received rainfall in unprecedented amounts over just a few days time. By the time the rain began to slacken, the National Weather Service reported that the event had dumped more than two feet of water on the state. The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the subsequent flooding was the worst in 75 years.

Hearts and Hands Disaster Recovery to Provide Long-Term Disaster Case Management Services

A view of the United Way’s 2-1-1 Call Center, which handles thousands of calls each month.
Laura Hunsberger/SC Public Radio

  More than seven months after the thousand-year flood, many residents are still struggling to recover from the disaster. This spring, the state selected an organization called Hearts and Hands Disaster Recovery to take on long-term disaster case management. FalonAlo, Executive Director of Hearts and Hands, says disaster case management involves helping flood-affected residents get on a path toward complete recovery.

Hearts and Hands Disaster Recovery to Provide Long-Term Disaster Case Management Services
Click Here to Listen... Coverage of South Carolina flood recovery is made possible in part by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Hearts and Hands Disaster Recovery is a non-profit organization that was established in 2013 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Their mission is to help meet whatever unmet needs a community may face after a natural disaster. The organization has multiple program areas: mold remediation, disaster case management, temporary housing (Charlie’s House), and construction/repair for damaged homes (Operation: Headed Home). Hearts and Hands plans to implement all their programs in South Carolina, but they will start by taking on long-term disaster case management for the entire state (all 24 disaster-declared counties). Federal funding provided through the S.C. Emergency Management Division has made it possible for Hearts and Hands to hire more than 50 staff members dedicated to disaster case management.

Hearts and Hands is already working with nearly 1000 clients who have done an intake. After getting an idea of a client’s total unmet needs, the case manager then works on a long-term recovery plan to assist them in getting back to normal. Each client gets their own disaster case manager and will have their contact information to reach them whenever they need them.

Disaster case management targets the total unmet needs a resident may have as a result of a disaster.

  Disaster case management targets the total unmet needs a resident may have as a result of a disaster. Hearts and Hands works in partnership with the other non-profit agencies at work in flood recovery, functioning within the Long Term Recovery Groups at the county level. The intake process is done through the United Way Association of South Carolina’s 2-1-1 number. Flood-affected residents who are still in need of help can dial 2-1-1, select their language, and select option “7” when prompted to be connected to an intake specialist. This model was used during Hurricane Sandy and allows there to be a one-way intake process. Each week, the United Way sends Hearts and Hands a list of new intake clients. Hearts and Hands aims to reach out to each new client within a week of their call to 2-1-1.

There are no minimum requirements for a resident to sign up for disaster case management, aside from having some kind of verification of their loss as a result of the flood. It is helpful if they have already registered with FEMA and/or the SBA, but it is not required. Hearts and Hands is still able to work with residents who may not have registered with FEMA. They are also equipped to help non-English speakers. They have fluent Spanish speakers and are hiring additional staff that may be fluent in other languages.

To manage the intake and distribution of resources, non-profits at work in disaster recovery use the CAN (Coordinated Assistance Network) Database, which is managed by the Red Cross and is not accessible by Government officials. This allows all the non-profits to coordinate their resources and prevent any duplication of services. It also allows Hearts and Hands to handle the case-management for thousands of clients while keeping track of what has been provided to each client individually. The only way for flood-affected resident to be entered in CAN at this point is to call 2-1-1 (extension 7) for an intake. The intake service was made possible through a grant from the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

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Update on this story: Richland County, Hearts and Hands Start Grass-Roots Efforts to Reach Displaced Flood Victims