HENRYVILLE, IN (WAVE) - Some tornado survivors are waiting on aid a year after the devastating twisters. Some, but not all of a highly publicized disaster relief grant, has made it into the hands of survivors. In fact, hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money controlled by the United Way still has not been distributed.
On March 2 2012, tornadoes hit southern Indiana with deadly, devastating force. Recovery groups mobilized with equal strength. That included a $2,080,300 disaster relief grant from the Lilly Endowment in Indianapolis. But one year later some storm survivors are still waiting on aid.
Numbers provided by the March2Recovery, the United Way arm set up to distribute the relief money in Clark, Jefferson and Washington counties, reveals $1,271,648 has been used to help survivors rebuild. $808,652 is still waiting to be used.
Executive Director Carolyn King said the grant money was never intended to be handed out overnight. She said case workers spent months assessing the unmet needs of survivors before starting to write checks and that many survivors have been reluctant to apply for aid.
"We help those who have no other means to recover," King said in an email. "That is hard for some survivors to admit. We do not force help on anyone. Some were working with other groups who did not get the job done before they come to us for help."
How many families have actually been helped by March2Recovery is another question. A brochure put out by the organization marking the one year anniversary said the group identified over 400 families with unmet recovery needs. But the majority of those 400 families only got phone calls and referrals from case workers.
King said to date only 75 to 100 families have received aid money from the Lilly grant. King said aid is planned for more families.
"More recent referrals are pending approval at our March unmet needs meeting or awaiting a construction start date," King said. . In the end King predicts the March2Recovery will use the $2,080,300 from Lilly will be spent on 150 families. King predicts all the money will be distributed by the end of 2013. King said the speed at which these projects are completed also depends on the skilled volunteers available.
"We utilize volunteers and prioritize families by highest need so can only help a certain number at a time," King said. "There are often legal issues to overcome that takes intensive case management, such a no clear title to property, liens, divorces in process."
"I have been told we are ahead of the curve related to most disasters," she added.
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