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Nonprofits Serving Manatee Connect After Hurricane Ian

Jody Jester of Bridge A Life talks about the Care Portal and its connective powers for needs of families after the storm

Time is precious for everyone, particularly in the days, weeks and months following a disaster.

Knowing the vast array of experiences and expertise in our community, Manatee Community Foundation facilitated a virtual conversation among local nonprofit organizations to provide a forum for sharing common experiences and client needs, ways to partner and leverage resources, and processes to access help.

Many participants expressed the high level of stress and trauma felt at the organization level by staff, described by some as a carryover from the past two years of navigating challenges caused by COVID. Some described their feelings as “survivor’s guilt,” knowing how vulnerable each of us were to the personal tragedies faced by others in the region.

Some important reflections by participants that can help inform giving and community knowledge:

  • Many clients lost all of their perishable foods and other essential items as result of power outages or exposure to water. These clients, many of whom were already vulnerable, will experience further set backs in economic self-sufficiency. (D-SNAP, Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, opens for Manatee County on October 17).
  • The extreme housing crisis that existed prior to the storm has made temporary or long-term housing solutions even more challenging for those who were displaced.
  • While short-term needs of clients are being addressed, the long-term impact of the storm to Southwest Florida is a reality that will require long-term commitment to resources.
  • Frustration was expressed about the lack of cohesive, one-source information to help individuals and organizations access financial support through grants, FEMA and other sources.
  • Some expressed surprise at the geographic areas that have seemed to be forgotten and are still experiencing a lack of on the ground response.

There was no shortage of good stories to share, examples of quick work by organizations and individuals who have shown up for people in need.

And because so many nonprofit organizations have established relationships with vulnerable people, many individuals and families have been able to quickly access resources through these trusted connections.

Follow up resources:

  • If your health/human service related organization needs funds to support Manatee County clients that have ben impacted by the storm, or if your nonprofit needs help that insurance or FEMA will not cover, here is a simple form to apply for funds from MCF’s Disaster Relief Fund.
  • If your organization is focused on animals, please email me (SBowie@ManateeCF.org) or Simone Peterson (SPeterson@ManateeCF.org) to share more about your Hurricane Ian related need.
  • To register for the webinar “Trauma Informed Skills: Moving Forward In Wake of Disaster,” offered by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and Resilient Retreat tomorrow, Thursday, October 13 at noon, click here. The webinar will be recorded for those unable to attend.
  • To register for the meeting & Q/A with FEMA, offered by Manatee Community Foundation and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce on Friday, October 14 at 1:00 p.m., click here.
  • Manatee Chamber of Commerce has a page set up for Ian Recovery Resources.