Disasters can happen anytime and anywhere, as many in North Carolina have learned with the hurricanes in the last few years. Since January 2019, Cindy Pizzino and her team have been working under a grant from FEMA, administered through Sandhills Center (Local Management Entity-Managed Care Organization), to provide education on disaster preparedness as part of the Hope 4 NC Crisis Counseling Program.
The Hope 4 NC program provides many disaster-related services such as individual crisis counseling for natural disaster survivors, sharing support and information on resources and services available to disaster survivors, public education, and community networking.
The Hope 4 NC program has produced some impressive results since its inception. Some results as of October 21, 2019:
• A total of 221,079 individual survivors have been served through Hope 4 NC CCP since September 14, 2018 when Hurricane Florence made landfall.
• More than 32,000 individuals were referred for more intensive community services, including health, behavioral health and disability services.
• More than 56,134 individuals were served since July 1, 2019. On average 3,500 individuals are served weekly. This surpasses the estimated 49,900 to be served through the RSP, by 13%.
• Since Hurricane Florence’s landfall, Hope 4 NC has served 9% of the total population of survivors living in the 27 most impacted North Carolina counties.
On Cindy’s team, Miriam Davila who started in March is working hard in their service counties with Spanish-speaking residents to share the information. Over the summer, she spent a lot of time helping children learn how to stay safe during natural disasters. There is a very substantial Spanish-speaking population in the rural counties the team covers and Miriams’ hard work developing strong relationships in these areas has made it possible to reach new individuals.
The team’s two newest members Vicky Berrier and Caroline Jones both jumped right in and are hitting the pavement hard to share the message and involve themselves within the community to arrange presentations and discussions about disaster preparedness.
Over the summer the team participated in many community events. They also worked with more than 120 students at the Hope Academy on activities about disaster preparedness including an activity where the students made artwork representing floods and thunderstorms. [See photos above.] They also recently gave a presentation at First Health and hope to be approved to present and share throughout First Health’s system in the future. They are also working with school system superintendents to be able to visit schools and help equip kids with disaster preparedness information.