August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina rampaged through the Gulf Coast of the United States. Local, state, federal officials, in addition to those in the private sector, were unprepared to handle Katrina’s aftermath. Between the victims and observers, it was clear that no plan of action were in place to effectively address the immediate needs of disaster victims who had been unable to evacuate the affected areas. This situation left no doubt that responding to future disasters successfully would require a new found commitment, focus, and coordination from the communities, local government, and private businesses.
March 14, 2008, tornadoes went through Atlanta, Georgia. This disaster allowed the city and county to exercise their response to the needs of the community. During the disaster recovery process, many questions were asked by elected officials, as well as the victims that were not addressed prior to this event. Even though the relief efforts were exceptional, we as a community have room for improvement. There were obstacles and issues that have been identified by organizations providing assistance and support. The recovery process takes longer in communities that are not well prepared and self-sufficient, which it is why it is extremely important to have a recovery process outlined in advance.
With a collaborated effort from the communities, local government, and private businesses, our mission is to provide disaster relief partners with specific information by disasters relief organizations that will enhance and improve recovery services in their communities in the future. Overall, the community does well with events that affect a small group of less than 150 people. We do not believe that as a community we have exchanged enough information to prepare for large scale events of more than 500 people.
Unity in Disasters, Inc. long term goal will be to support over 4,000 victims annually in four major areas of services for a minimum of three months. This effort will take affect after acute and intermediate stages of assistance have been all exhausted. The three stages are briefly outlined as follows:
Acute Stage: After an event (fire, flood, tornado, etc.) has occurred, immediate needs are put in place by the Red Cross, Salvation Army, other faith-based groups, and local emergency management agencies. These agencies will provide food, water, shelter, and medical attention during the first 24-48 hours, or as allocated. The selections of shelter, either in gymnasiums, churches, or hotel vouchers are provided, as well as on a case by case basis. This phase also includes spontaneous donations of money, services and resources based on the event and media coverage.
Intermediate Stage: Once the immediate needs are met as outlined in the Acute Stage, assessments of time frames and secondary assistance are determined by agencies and case managers. Further assessment determines how long victims will be homeless, types of needs such as elderly, single parents with infants and physically or mentally challanged. Finally, the extent of damage to a particular area determines relocation options and jobs lost, either temporary or permanent, due to property damage. At this point, a list of organizations that provide aid and support are introduced for follow up to be done by the victim as they begin to make decisions for reconstruction. For large scale disasters, most are given a path and direction; however long term recovery efforts must be a community project.
Reassessment and Final Transition Stage: In disasters that affect fewer than 300 victims most final transition occurs during the intermediate stage as mentioned above. For the 500 plus families displaced, traumatized and at 100 % loss of property, this becomes a critical time. Currently three of the top international faith based organizations assist with grants, emergency funding, supplies, referrals, training for smaller faith based groups, sponsoring symposiums, and providing news updates. Local churches provide resources based on Christian principles or religious beliefs either as a whole or individually, yet we can improve an ongoing unified, creative, proactive, and systematic approach to large scale events.
501(c)3 non-profit organization
Since 2009 Unity in Disasters averages $125,536 per year from In Kind Donations with 98% toward direct services with no paid staff in the following areas:
Founder: Joe Gilliom
Areas of expertise:
• To respond to the basic unmet needs of men, women, and children who have been emotionally traumatized or displaced due to unexpected circumstances.
• To provide transitional structure and resources that fuel and sustain the steps of a family, or individuals to resume a balanced lifestyle.
• To maintain and communicate information that allows clear direction and specific guidelines for recovery from the loss and damage of property and reconstruction of life, spirit, and peace of mind.
We provide Community Education - We participate in Collaborations
Recognizing this need for a new approach in emergency response, Unity in Disasters, Inc. is committed to ensuring that a coordinated implementation-focused plan is created and carried out to meet needs in the following areas:
We reach out to Cities and Communities - We advocate the importance of Communication - We reach out to Congregations
Our vision is to provide communities assistance in navigating the disaster relief services through education and partnerships.
We are a non-profit agency dedicated in providing a systematic hands-on approach in assisting individuals in need during their short and/or long term recovery stages of natural or man-made disasters.
*STG - Short term goal *LTG - Long term goal