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Pooler Magazine

Stronger Together: The Coastal Empire Disaster Recovery Committee

Stronger Together:
The Coastal Empire Disaster Recovery Committee

๐’๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐›๐ฒ ๐‚๐ข๐ง๐๐ฒ ๐‘๐ž๐ข๐
๐๐ก๐จ๐ญ๐จ๐ ๐ซ๐š๐ฉ๐ก๐ฒ ๐›๐ฒ ๐‹๐ž๐ข๐๐ฒ ๐‹๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ


To alleviate the impact to people in our community, the Coastal Empire Disaster Recovery Committee (CEDRC) serves as a collaborative organization to prepare for, assist with and recover from disasters.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017, one organization was created to oversee and address multiple needs generated by future community disasters. Collaborative efforts between faith-based, nonprofit and government agencies aided in the establishment of the CEDRC. Today CEDRC is composed of various groups who prepare for, assist with and recover from disasters.

Together partner agencies can find those who need help and streamline the recovery effort, while preventing duplication of services during long term recovery case management. CEDRC is also able to record and report the progress of recovery throughout the process.

The collaborative organization focuses on three important phases, which cover the timeline from before a disaster to many months or even years later.

Kelly Crane, Disaster Program Manager at the American Red Cross, is also the Board Chair for CEDRC. She says, โ€œImagine ten fingers, each with separate controls. Now imagine how much more efficiently it works when we have one mind to coordinate the efforts of all ten.โ€

The group gets together every month to plan and collaborate. Kelly says the collaboration works because โ€œAt the end of the day we all have the same goal, which is to rebuild communities after a disaster.โ€

๐‘๐ž๐›๐ฎ๐ข๐ฅ๐๐ข๐ง๐  ๐‹๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ฌ

Kelly says, โ€œThe American Red Cross handles the immediate response to disasters, such as fires, storms, hurricanes, even train derailments. We provide shelter, food, and reunification. After the immediate needs are met it is key that the CEDRC partner agencies provide the long-term recovery case work.โ€

Jay Mullins, the Administrative Coordinator for CEDRC, says, โ€œCEDRC as an organization does not provide any direct services. People are sent to us from partner agencies, such as United Way and our role is to coordinate the ensuing services.โ€

To eliminate the run around people can face trying to apply for services after a disaster, with CEDRC there is a single point of entry for each case. For example, if it is a home repair issue one agency will meet with homeowners, inspect their home, and see what qualifies for services. Then as a group CEDRC determines which agency is responsible for what service.

Jay says, โ€œOne agency might handle a new roof or roof repair, another might take care of the homeownerโ€™s windows. One case could involve five agencies, and services depend on each agency involved.โ€ The goal is a seamless response to the often-lengthy recovery process.

Housing is an issue that truly affects the most vulnerable. The affordable housing crisis is exacerbated after a disaster, which can easily lead to homelessness. It is crucial that the helping agencies partner together to marshal all resources to keep families sheltered. CEDRCโ€™s role as a collaborative body helps individuals navigate an often-complex recovery.

๐‘๐ž๐š๐ฅ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ๐‚๐ก๐ž๐œ๐ค

Most people see disasters as events that happen to other people. Unfortunately, the odds are that a disaster will happen to us, often when we least expect it.

Jay says โ€œBeing personally affected by a disaster isnโ€™t an ifโ€”itโ€™s a when. And itโ€™s not a three-day event. Most people underestimate the time needed for recovery. The reality is much time is spent waiting on funds, waiting on contractors, waiting for repairs to happen. Three years is the average amount of time it takes most people to get their lives back together.โ€

Kelly says, โ€œAs the weather pattern continues to change, we will experience more severe weather more often. When disaster strikes, which it will, have a plan ready that you can put into immediate action. The best advice I have is to get more organized.โ€


Individuals and community groups often go to great lengths to bring in donated goods after a disaster. But the reality is that the distribution logistics often negate the usefulness of such donations. Pallets of water and bags of canned foods, although meant well, can often create problems for the โ€œboots on the groundโ€ who have to spend limited resources of space and time to sort them out and deliver.

Disaster relief experts all agree, the best kind of help is to send funds, which let the receiving organization purchase what is actually needed. And your money goes much further that way, as the receiving organization will be tax exempt and will have purchasing agreements in place so they can buy for pennies on the dollar.

There is a common misconception that donated funds collected during an emergency disaster go to salaries, cars, building funds, etc., but that is simply not true. Kelly says, โ€œExecutive salaries are funded completely separately and not through donations and vehicles are donated as โ€˜in kind donationโ€™ by auto manufacturers. Endowments cover operating expenses and finance overhead.โ€

She stresses that โ€œAll funds raised for a disaster are used one hundred percent for needs. All of the money donated for a disaster goes directly to that disaster relief.โ€

๐๐ž๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐“๐จ๐ ๐ž๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ

Community support is crucial to the work at CEDRC. They are always looking for other agencies to partner with and welcome businesses that want to be involved. They would like to add more board members from profit and nonprofits, and they need volunteers who are interested in working with the partner agencies. There are myriad ways you can contribute as an individual or group.

Together, working as a team, the community disaster response is much stronger.

Learn more about how you can get involved and take advantage of the opportunity to do some good. Perhaps your organization can partner with CEDRC, or you can volunteer your time or host a fundraiser or make a donation. For further information on CEDRC and how you can help, visit