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Report From West, TX – May 29, 2013

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The following report is from Sarah Williams of LSS Disaster Response, on recovery progress in West. Sarah’s assessment of the residual effects following a disaster – particularly as they pertain to mental health – reaffirms the importance of LSSDR’s long-term commitment to disaster recovery.

So far we have completed the comprehensive intake process on 110 West, Texas families for Disaster Case Management, and have around 80 requests for “House in a Box,” the wonderful program run by St. Vincent de Paul which provides a full household of new furniture, linens, dishes, etc., for affected families. We are continuing to make referrals to mental health resources like Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR), and disability services such as Area Agency on the Aging, and the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS).

A large number of cases we’re seeing now are predominately clients in need of mental health and medical resources. As survivors with serious injuries leave the hospitals, the reality of post-traumatic stress (PTSD) often sets in, along with the exacerbation of any pre-existing mental health issues.  

We have been getting many requests for assistance with medical bills for injuries sustained in the explosion, most having to do with glass wounds and injuries to the eyes and head. We continue to give out gift cards for use in purchasing prescription medications and are setting up an emergency grant fund to assist with medical bills where appropriate.

We’ve been working with the Baylor Clinic for Mental Health and the Baylor Medical Reserve Corps Unit, along with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, to set up weekly support groups out of the Catholic and Methodist churches, and we’re trying to coordinate a mobile mental health clinic that can send therapists to meet with clients in our offices.

Recently, there have been a lot of requests for food, and the West Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) is distributing food through the existing food banks. The LTRC is sending food boxes over to us at the Disaster Recovery Center so that we can make sure our clients are getting food upon request.

In the cases of many undocumented and Spanish-language-only families, the non-profit community is the only source of assistance for some of these families.

LSSDR has been asked by the State to assist the West Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) on their behalf. We were introduced to the Committee as the “go-to” agency for questions about long-term recovery.

FEMA has been sending its particularly difficult cases our way, and their agents have been astounded and thrilled that we’ve been able find solutions instead of roadblocks. We know they are very glad to be working with us. The Individual Assistance branch director has us on speed dial!

One last note, just yesterday, we were able to deliver another 50 gifts cards to those in need worth between $25 to $50 a piece.

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