On September 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina and over the next two days produced record-breaking rainfall the state. The storm caused major flooding and property destruction across eastern North Carolina.
In the wake of the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funded Hope 4 NC Crisis Counseling Program grants in the state to assist in recovery and preparedness education efforts. Two RHA teams have been working under Hope 4 NC grants to educate and assist survivors in their communities.
In Anson, Guilford, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Moore, Randolph, and Richmond counties, Cindy Pizzino and her team have been providing disaster preparedness resources and education. And in Bladen, Robeson and Scotland counties, Ivan Pride and his teams have assisted in recovery efforts — providing both immediate disaster services and ongoing recovery services.
Hope 4 NC Program Impact
Across the state, 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.
RHA’s Work in Central NC (Anson, Guilford, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Moore, Randolph and Richmond counties)
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.
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.
RHA’s Work in Eastern NC (Bladen, Robeson and Scotland counties)
In October of 2018, Eastpointe (Local Management Entity-Managed Care Organization) reached out to RHA’s behavioral health team in the Lumberton area and asked them to provide recovery assistance to Hurricane Florence survivors in Robeson, Scotland and Bladen counties through the Hope 4 NC Crisis Counseling Program Grant (CCP).
RHA’s recovery assistance Outreach Team in Robeson, Scotland and Bladen counties worked in collaboration with Eastpointe, FEMA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS).
FEMA funded the grant in two phases: an initial 60-day phase to provide immediate disaster services and a second nine-month phase to provide regular services as needed for recovery. Each of the partners plays a role: SAMHSA provides technical assistance and training, NC DHHS oversees the implementation of the grant and Eastpointe serves as the liaison between RHA and NCDHHS and manages the funding from FEMA.
The goals of the Hope 4 NC CCP grants are:
• To reach large numbers of people affected by the hurricane through face-to-face outreach.
• To assess the emotional needs of survivors and make referrals to behavioral health services as needed.
• To identify tangible needs and link survivors to community resources and disaster relief services
• To provide emotional support through basic crisis counseling and education.
• To develop partnerships with local organizations.
Since October of 2018, the RHA Robeson, Scotland and Bladen Outreach Team, which consists of four Robeson County teams, plus one team each focusing on Scotland and Bladen counties, has reached out to tens of thousands of individuals and provided crisis counseling to many survivors. They have linked multitudes of survivors to much needed food and clothing and resources to get their homes repaired, started and/or participated in Long Term Recovery committees (LTR), and developed self-help groups. They are also visiting schools and daycares to provide disaster recover education.
Through our participation in the CCP grant we have provided important relief assistance to many individuals and will continue to do so until the grant ends on March 31,, 2020.*
*The government shutdown of 2019 caused the grant timelines to be extended.