Restoring Lives: Disaster Case Management

The weekend of April 29, 2017 held a difficult time for many residents of the greater St. Louis area: rainstorms swelled the tributaries of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, causing disastrous flooding. Many of these same areas had experienced similar damage just over a year prior in the winter 2015 floods. By bringing public and private dollars together through our Disaster Case Management program, St. Francis Community Services helped restore the homes of individuals whose lives were upended by disaster.

Due to the agency’s reputation and expertise in long-term case management, St. Francis Community Services became the local agency to assist the homeowners in five counties around St. Louis affected by the floods. Directing funding from a wide variety of agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Catholic Charities of St. Louis, the Salvation Army, and the United Way, Disaster Case Managers assisted homeowners through the process of assessing the needed repairs and applying for funding to complete them.  

 “While other agencies may only look at specific home repairs, we try and look at the entire impact of a disaster on a homeowners’ life,” says Dolores Daniels, Case Manager for the program. As an agency focused on holistic care, we look at the many needs of an individual experiencing crisis and strive to meet them.” Our Case Managers have assisted clients to school fairs for their children, have made extra home visits to clients after a hospitalization or the death of a loved one, and advocated for clients to receive food and utility assistance. While these have nothing to do with making home repairs, it is a part of the spirit of our agency to care for the complex needs of vulnerable clients in all our programs, and Disaster Case Management is no different. “You can’t reduce the impact of a disaster to simply home repairs when the physical and emotional toll is much greater than that,” Daniels notes.

For Linda Cline, making home repairs by herself after the flood was an impossibility. Like many of our clients, she is elderly and on a fixed income, but the flood had destroyed her front entrance and door. Because of the warping caused by water damage, the door did not close and no longer locked; it let cold air inside in the winter and air conditioning escape in the summer. In order to keep the door closed she would move a deceased husband’s wheelchair against it, and then cover the gap with household materials. Needless to say, this did not make her feel safe at home. With the assistance of Disaster Case Management, our team was able to restore her front entrance, install a new door and insulation, and help her feel comfortable at home.

The Disaster Case Management program wraps up in February 2019. Throughout the duration of the program, St. Francis Community Services worked with over 100 clients on a long term basis to restore their homes.