Richland County, Hearts and Hands Start Grass-Roots Efforts to Reach Displaced Flood Victims

May 20, 2016

    Reaching displaced flood victims and getting those victims to use the Disaster Recovery Database (2-1-1) were major items of discussion during a Richland County Blue Ribbon Committee meeting.

During the May 19 meeting, 10 members of the committee discussed difficulties in reaching some flood victims. Michael King is Richland County disaster recovery chief. He said the county is reaching victims by phone and in-person visits.

We have a county-wide mass notification system.” King said they try to keep the database updated. “At our last check, I think we’ve notified about 80,000 via telephone about 2-1-1.

2-1-1 is free, confidential and available statewide.  For information on vital services in communities, people should dial 2-1-1 on their phone. According to, if you call from a mobile/cell phone, you will need to use the toll-free number: 1-866-892-9211. The service also offers multilingual call specialists.

King said flyers about 2-1-1 have been emailed to community leaders but his team has also started knocking on doors.

“Those individuals we’ve found, that we do not have telephone numbers for, that have reached out for help, we’re actually going out in the neighborhoods, knocking on doors, talking to neighbors trying to find out where the individuals are.”

Hearts and Hands Disaster Recovery is the non-profit organization selected to handle long-term, disaster case management in South Carolina. Program Manager Brittany Kelly said the group is also starting grass-roots, outreach efforts to better serve flood victims.

“We’ll actually be at the Midlands Technical College Community Day. That’s where we’re starting our outreach for the Midlands area.

Kelly said when out in communities, case managers will be able to do a full intake on a person, so flood victims should bring needed documentation with them. These documents may include any proof of loss, proof of ownership of the home or whether they are renting, as well as any bills they’ve acquired.

This information will be entered into the 2-1-1 system. A case manager will be assigned to that individual to guide them through the recovery process. When individuals call 2-1-1, they are promoted to select their language and then select prompt seven.

Kelly said there are currently 1300 people in their database. “We’re finding the pockets of residents that have been affected by the flood and making sure we’re getting out to those areas.”