As the first anniversary of Hurricane Irma approaches, thousands of elderly, low-income, and chronically underserved residents of Broward County impacted by the Category 4 storm still have unmet housing, employment, and medical needs. For most of them, Irma dealt a particularly destabilizing blow.
In the absence of reliable public transportation, food service, retail, and hospitality industry employees were unable to report to work. Mold infestation exacerbated existing illnesses, threatening health and home. Seemingly minor disruptions sent cash-strapped families into an economic tailspin.
The aftermath of Irma reiterated what Katrina exposed more than a decade prior: natural disasters disproportionately burden the disadvantaged. Fortunately, organizations across South Florida are harnessing resources to best serve these high-priority clients with efficiency and expediency.
During my term of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer associate assigned to Meals on Wheels South Florida, I provided disaster case management to clients facing recovery-related challenges. Throughout Broward County, our neighbors are suffering as they reside under leaking roofs and amidst rotted interiors.
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Thankfully, due to the generosity of a United Way of Broward County grant, Meals on Wheels has financed several mitigation projects. The Irma Relief Emergency Assistance Fund has allowed Meals on Wheels to replace windows, screens, electronics, and adaptive devices. We also have partnered with the Long-Term Recovery Coalition of Broward County (LTRC), .an amalgamation of the area’s business, faith-based, governmental, and nonprofit agencies active in disaster recovery. Should you require disaster case management, please consider joining the LTRC.