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Tornado recovery marches on 5 months later

By Gary Popp

News and Tribune

Published: Thursday, Aug. 2 2012 8:20 a.m. MDT

"Out of (those who registered with FEMA), most of them are going to be OK. They will get the FEMA money. They will be repaired," King said. "We anticipate about 20 percent will need March2Recovery help. It is about 275 to 300 households that we will be helping."

Since immediately after the tornadoes, King said volunteers have put in long, laborious hours, from pulling people out of houses to clearing roads to building fences. But coordination efforts extend beyond brute manpower, however, as many volunteers have made their mark with pens and pencils.

Under the March2Recovery umbrella of services, volunteers have helped survivors file claims with FEMA, find doctors and receive Medicaid.

There have been hundreds of volunteers and dozens of committees writing the policies and reviewing the case management efforts," King said of those who have navigated red tape to help survivors.

With its holistic approach to its relief efforts, March2Recovery created a spiritual and emotional needs committee.

"(The group) has been a really important committee because we were particularly concerned about the schools and school kids and issues with staff and kids there," King said.

She said the group has helped locate revenue sources to fund an after-school program and, by working with the YMCA, provided summer-camp programs.

"(The children) lost a lot of time in schools. Even though they got into other buildings within two or three weeks, it just wasn't a real learning atmosphere," King said.

Jennifer Mills-Knutsen is a pastor at St. Luke's United Church of Christ in Jeffersonville and serves on the March2Recovery spiritual and emotional needs committee.

"I got involved the Monday after the tornado," she said.

Mills-Knutsen said she went to a United Way volunteer reception center on Spring Street in Jeffersonville prepared to help however she could.

"We have several families in our church that were impacted by the storm, and we wanted to be a supportive presence, not just in the immediate response, but for the long-term," Mills-Knutsen said.

Through her position with March2Recovery, Mills-Knutsen has had the opportunity to address survivors' intangible needs.

"We want to make sure people get put back together after the storm, that their lives are put whole again," she said. "That doesn't mean just their property and houses, but dealing with the trauma and spiritual and emotional needs as well."

Mills-Knutsen said her congregation is one of many churches in Southern Indiana to provide volunteers following the storms.

"In this situation a lot of good church folk are coming together." she said. "It is really powerful to witness that we are doing this together."

Although March2Recovery is preparing to provide extended relief, King said organizers do not intend on becoming a permanent fixture.

"Until people are back in their houses our job isn't done," she said. "Once we feel that everyone is restored to their homes and, hopefully, restored emotionally, then we will go away. March2Recovery will go away."

Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., http://www.newsandtribune.com

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