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Benton County Disaster Recovery Coalition Continues Responding to Derecho Damage


Benton County Disaster Recovery Coalition continues to meet each week to address recovery challenges from the August 10, 2020 derecho, one of the worst storms in United States history. The Coalition, made up of service agency representatives and volunteers, is Benton County’s long-term disaster recovery organization. The organization members work to help families and farmers get back to more normal situations and connect with agencies to coordinate volunteer efforts for cleanup. Their motto – “We are here to help with all other help is gone”

Since last summer’s storm, the Coalition has hired a part-time client liaison to coordinate financial assistance for residents and farmers who still have needs after exhausting any government or insurance funds.

The extent of damages and need from this storm is great. The Coalition is needing more funds to assist families and farmers. Anyone wishing to donate funds to help with recovery efforts may do so by check or Venmo. Checks can be made payable to the Benton County Disaster Recovery Coalition and send to P.O. Box 125, Vinton, Iowa 52349. A Venmo account is also available: www.venmo.com/BentonCounty-DisasterCoalition. The Coalition is a 501(c) (3) organization.

To date, about 50 families and farmers in Benton County have been helped with Coalition funds. The out-of-pocket expenses for some farms not covered by insurance have been over $20,000 to $60,000 or more. Unfortunately, with limited funds, the Coalition had to cap support to cover any farm damages at $2500.

For family residences, there is no financial limit for needs that may still exist after all other resources have been utilized, but the Organization is limited by the number of funds they have available. With settlements still pending with insurance and a lack of building materials recovery efforts are going slower than expected. The Coalition will continue to assist as long as they have available funds.

In addition to helping families and farmers with repairs, the organization is working with United Way of East Central Iowa and Volunteer Iowa’s Disaster Program to coordinate volunteer efforts to assist with cleanup. United Way will be providing funding for a part-time local coordinator to assist with organizing volunteers to address cleanup efforts in communities and counties. A tree clean-up day was recently held in Van Horne to remove storm-damaged trees. Anyone who is interested in volunteering or organizing a group of volunteers should contact Kayla Paulsen at United Way, by Email: kayla.paulsen@uweci.org or phone: 319-398-5372, Extension 837.

United Way of East Central Iowa is hiring a Community Resource and Volunteer Engagement Specialist to assist in coordinating disaster volunteer efforts in Benton County. The job application can be found at the Corridor Careers website: www.corridorcareers.com. Questions about the position can be directed to Kayla Paulsen at United Way.

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