St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group

by St. Croix Foundation for Community Development
St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group
St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group
St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group
St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group
St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group
St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group
A New Roof Becomes a Reality!
A New Roof Becomes a Reality!

The spirit and resiliency of a people are most strongly on display in the aftermath of a disaster—especially almost four years beyond. As we continue to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the unity of our community continues to be vital towards the achievement of a clear and concerted vision of a recovered and resilient St. Croix, USVI.

The St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group (LTRG) is a cooperative body that is made up of representatives from faith-based, non-profit, government, business, and other organizations working within St. Croix to assist individuals and families as they recover from Hurricane Maria.

The goal of the LTRG is to unite recovery resources with community needs in order to ensure that even the most vulnerable in the community recover from the disaster.  The LTRG officially formed under the fiscal sponsorship of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development in 2015. Under the guidance of FEMA and the American Red Cross, members formed committees to carry out the work of the organization.

Meeting the Mandate
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us into changing how we continued to recover. We lost the opportunity to bring in volunteer teams to rebuild homes. Government programs focused on recovery came to halt as we weathered the pandemic storm. Despite these challenges, we accomplished so much in 2020 with new partnerships, stronger community engagement, capacity strengthening in technological communication, increased coordination with government agencies, and a renewed commitment from our member organizations to strive for a fully recovered island—and an island that will be prepared for the next disaster.

We have begun the process of formally folding the work of the LTRG into a new STX COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) model which will ultimately be housed under the territory-wide VI VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). As part of this process we are engaged in a formal membership campaign, asset-mapping of our 150+ member organizations to better understand where resources are located throughout the island and have occupied a seat at the Virgin Islands Emergency Management Council table, trained members to staff Points of Distribution Centers in times of crisis, offered volunteers to work emergency shelters, and carried out some initial discussions on community-based resiliency hubs that will be housed under the COAD. These hubs would allow for communities to survive in the immediate days following a disaster while we await additional outside relief—all in conjunction with the COADs on our sister islands.

Throughout all of this, we have not forgotten those in our community who are not back to a “new normal” from the storms of 2017. We still see the suffering of those without homes or a roof on their home almost four years after the storms. And we continue to do our best to bring relief to our community through our Disaster Case Managers and our Unmet Needs Roundtable. In addition, we are vocal advocates demanding that federally funded relief programs be expedited to operate at a much more efficient level. The recovery is not over! COVD-19 may have altered HOW we can help, but it will not stop us from helping all those that we can.

We are grateful for the support of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development through their fiscal sponsorship and to our wonderful partners at GlobalGiving and Island Spirit Fund for their continued financial support.

With gratitude for allowing us to serve the St. Croix community and our sister islands, the staff of the St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group:

Jay Rollins, Executive Director for National & Regional Relationships
Delia Richardson, Executive Director for Community Engagement
Christina Joseph, Executive Assistant
Rosalie Javois, VISTA

DISASTER CASE MANAGEMENT and UNMET NEEDS
During this reporting period, our DCMs continued to serve a total of 54 clients.

  • DCM program activity increased as the territory returned to a degree of normalcy after the extended COVID shutdown. Clients were supported by DCMs during the shutdown through frequent communication and sporadic home visits when circumstances warranted.  Many clients who were awaiting the Envision Tomorrow Program began receiving duplication of benefits notices indicating FEMA funds requiring repayment before they could move into the reconstruction/repair phase of the program. Of course, many did not have the resources necessary to repay, especially significant amounts.  DCMs assisted in multiple ways, including brainstorming with clients regarding potential lenders or grant availability, support with appealing their cases with additional evidence substantiating how money was spent, and seeking alternate avenues for home repair.  This new development was challenging for clients and created higher levels of anxiety. Most expressed a collective frustration about the pace of Envision Tomorrow as they continue to endure living in unstable conditions especially during heavy rainfall. Most do not have alternate living space and are trying to make their current living situation as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, many of these clients are elderly and some are disabled.  And the transition of the Virgin Islands into hurricane season has not helped. To date, there is no indication or notification as to the actual start of construction of homes for clients in the program.
  • DCM staff began to initiate more direct communication with the management of the Envision Tomorrow Program to monitor client progress through the program more closely. DCMs were able to meet with Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) director and his Residential Disaster Recovery Management team to acquire more definitive information regarding potential repair timelines, obstacles as well as offer assistance and collaboration with the agency to help move the process along.
  • DCM had two clients that were undergoing the completion of repairs to their home. One client saw the repair of the entire home’s electrical system, replacement of most windows and some structural repair while the other client received a full kitchen refurbishment.
  • An additional 6 clients were submitted to Unmet Needs Roundtable for repair funding during this period and subsequently, 4 clients were approved totaling $32,838.88, 1 was denied and 1 is currently pending information from the contractor regarding potential structural issues that may require more funding.  Work on two of the recently approved clients’ home repairs has started.
  • DCM program was able to conduct debris removal from the client’s property to prepare for reconstruction to begin and was also able to fund roof tarp installation for another client—a total of $5,120.
  • Additionally, 2 other clients were able to get the repair to their damaged home started with insurance money received from hurricane Maria damage.   Although the money awarded was inadequate to completely cover the cost of repair, they lost confidence in the ability of the Envision Tomorrow Program to get underway as they have been paying rent for the past 4 years in anticipation of the additional assistance to bring their home to completion. Both DCMs have worked with clients and contractors to determine realistic repairs given the amount they have that will make the home reasonably inhabitable. They expressed exhaustion waiting on the program for the past 2 years and seeing no evidence of progress for any applicants.
  • DCM also worked with 3 clients with the application process to the USDA home repair grant program. Clients are still going through the application process and approval is pending. 

CONCLUSION
Although very delayed, DCMs continue to work with resident populations in getting their recovery needs met and support the implementation of territorial programs designed to assist home rebuilding as well as any other adjunctive services they may need.  Currently, our greatest allies in achieving these goals have been the Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) roofing program, STX/LTRG Unmet Needs Roundtable, the USDA & Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.  We look forward to continued partnership with the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority and its Envision Tomorrow Program to witness the restoration of homes that are safe, sanitary, secure, and comfortable for program enrollees. 

METRICS: CLIENT CASE LOAD TOTAL: REPORTING PERIOD: March 5 – June 25, 2021

  • Total Clients Served: 54
  • Number of cases submitted to Unmet Needs Roundtable For Review: 6
  • Number of cases approved by Unmet Needs Roundtable: 4
  • Total enrolled in the Envision Tomorrow Program: 40
  • New Enrollments during reporting period: 1
  • Total Cases Closed: 4
Finally! A new kitchen, thanks to the LTRG and GG!
Finally! A new kitchen, thanks to the LTRG and GG!
A mountain of debris removed for health & safety.
A mountain of debris removed for health & safety.
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The spirit and resiliency of a people are most strongly on display in the aftermath of a disaster. As we recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the unity of the community is vital towards the achievement of a clear and concerted vision.

The St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group (LTRG) is a cooperative body that is made up of representatives from faith-based, non-profit, government, business, and other organizations working within St. Croix to assist individuals and families as they recover from Hurricane Maria.

The goal of the LTRG is to unite recovery resources with the community needs in order to ensure that even the most vulnerable in the community recover from the disaster.

The LTRG officially formed under the fiscal sponsorship of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development in 2015. Under the guidance of FEMA and the American Red Cross, members formed committees to carry out the work of the organization.

The year of the pandemic, 2020, is in the books! We faced new challenges, new obstacles, new norms, and finished the year with much accomplished, stronger community partnerships, increased coordination with government agencies, and a renewed commitment to our beloved island home.

In this year of quarantines, hand sanitizer and mask-wearing, we celebrated new partnerships with Frederiksted Twin Lions Club, Mario's Water Crystal, Guayabal Foundation, St. Croix Boys and Girls Club, Broadband VI, Flemings' Transport, Designs by Regal, Project Hope, Catholic Charities, Mutiny Island Vodka, and Community First. We strengthened our work with FEMA, VITEMA, Dept. of Health, Dept. of Human Services, Dept. of Public Works, the Office of Disaster Recovery, and AARP.

We met needs by providing water, masks, and hand sanitizers to senior communities. We provided fresh produce to vulnerable populations. Our youth filled sandbags and our members helped distribute them to the community. We provided more than 500 hurricane prep kits to seniors in St. Croix. We raised $11,856.17 between 28 local businesses and 11 individual families. And we granted $98, 130.84 to 22 faith-based organizations.

We worked with our sister islands to bring the VI Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) back in good standing, with updated bylaws and newly elected officers from both districts.

We are grateful for the support of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development through their fiscal sponsorship and to our wonderful partners at GlobalGiving and Island Spirit Fund for their continued financial support.

In the coming year, we will continue to transition from our Long Term Recovery Group status to the St. Croix COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) as we turn our focus to preparing for all hazards that could impact our island.

With gratitude for allowing us to serve the St. Croix community and our sister islands, the staff of the St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group:

Jay Rollins, Executive Director for National & Regional Relationships

Delia Richardson, Executive Director for Community Engagement

Christina Joseph, Executive Assistant

Rosalie Javois, VISTA

Dametria Douglas, VISTA

DISASTER CASE MANAGEMENT

Disaster Case Managers (DCMs) are the life-line for disaster recovery in helping families access resources to recovery. During this reporting period, 101 clients were served, including two new enrollees into the program. Services continue to focus on providing financial assistance, service referrals, advocacy, and comprehensive goal setting. The program aims to attract residents whose homes are still in need of repair from damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 to assist them with any help they may need for a return to normalcy and maneuvering the requirements of different funding opportunities.

Twenty-four cases were closed this reporting cycle. Service coordination contributed to one long-standing client finally accessing a new apartment through Section 8. This disabled client was referred after the hurricane when the landlord increased rent beyond the capacity to pay while refusing to make storm-related repairs. With the threat of homelessness looming due to the expiration of the state of emergency for eviction expiring later this year, the DCM team found a funding source to pay a portion of the moving fees, enabling the client to move.

There are currently 54 clients awaiting the Envision Tomorrow program, which provides home repairs through a federally funded program. Progress has been made in acquiring information on the steps to approve home repairs through this program. We anticipate these clients being able to continue to move toward restoration, with DCM support and guidance. One family member spoke fondly of the DCM that helped her mother recover from the storm damage:

“Mother's home was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria and despite the damages, she was forced to continue to live in the dwelling. She is a senior and appreciates her independence but struggled to go through the recovery process. She had been living in the damaged home since the hurricane and we feared for her health because of the extent of the damages. We pursued all the available avenues we could find but did not get any solution. Our DCM was able to obtain funds for the necessary repairs to make the home comfortable, safe, sanitary, and secure and our mother was able to regain her life and independence."

REBUILD PROGRAM

The pandemic forced us to shut down our volunteer rebuild committee. Our last team left on April 4, 2020. With the help of Lutheran Disaster Services reconstruction staff and My Brother's Workshop staff and youth, they were able to complete two additional homes. The program officially closed on June 26.

Our sincerest thanks and gratitude to Mr. Chris Finch of Lutheran Social Services for chairing this committee and working with all the volunteers that came to support our efforts. They were able to accomplish rebuilding 71 homes through the program.

UNMET NEEDS

The Unmet Needs Committee fills a critical role in disaster recovery. When a Disaster Case Manager has exhausted all resources available to a beneficiary and needs are still not met, the Unmet Needs Committee steps in to fill the gap.

With the closing of the Rebuild Program, funding was shifted to the Unmet Needs Committee to continue to support our clients. In 2020, we were able to fund 11 cases through funding from Cane Bay Cares, CFVI, and GlobalGiving totaling $202,575.75. Here are two examples of cases that were funded:

Case 1 is a 77-year-old disabled St. Croix resident that has been living in a home severely damaged by Hurricane Maria for the past three years. This client is in poor health and legally blind. The client sustained total roof damage that resulted in massive leaks throughout the home and damage to the windows, doors, and tiled floors. The electrical wiring throughout the home sustained major damage from water entering the circuitry. Although some progress has been made, the home still has significant repairs that need to be completed to make the home livable, safe, sanitary, and secure. The Unmet Needs Committee will provide funding for the contractor fees to repair the electrical system in the home, replace damaged windows and exterior doors, and repair cracks in the interior load-bearing walls.

Case 2 is a 52-year-old St. Croix retired senior resident that sustained major damage to their home during Hurricane Maria. The damage included total loss of the roof, damaged kitchen, bathroom, windows, and floors due to the home being flooded. All appliances and furniture inside the home were destroyed. The home is still without a functioning kitchen. The Unmet Needs Committee will provide funding for the contractor to install kitchen cabinets and a sink.

YOUTH COMMITTEE

The Youth Committee's fearless chair, Xawntoia Franklin, and her committee have a mission to include youth voices in the recovery process-for the youth, by the youth.

Three LTRG Youth Committee (YC) members, twelve Disaster Preparedness Ambassadors (DPA), and five community members participated in the St. Croix Children's parade on January 3, 2020. Their parade entry consisted of a dance routine, a truck with DJ, props depicting various disaster preparedness items (eg. First aid kits, flashlights, bleach, bottled water, etc.). DPAs handed out first aid kits and shouted out a newly formed slogan that 'Preparedness doesn't start in May it starts from Fete'.

The LTRGYC hosted biweekly meetings from January through June 2020 in the hopes of hosting a Youth Opportunity Fair in May 2020. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the island went into an island-wide shutdown and the YC and DPA were forced to pivot to implementing virtual strategies in order to provide support to youth quarantined at home. During March 2020 - June 2020, DPA produced five 1:00 minute videos that were posted to social media (eg. TikTok, lnstagram, Facebook etc). Produced videos covered staying safe during a pandemic and disaster preparedness protocols. The videos were viewed hundreds of times and increased traffic to the LTRG's social media pages while sharing important information. While virtual meetings continued throughout the summer, meetings consisted of procedural housekeeping issues and supporting DPA as they navigated their way to a new normal.

The LTRGYC members suffered a series of personal losses that led to a hiatus of meetings in September and October. Meetings resumed in November with FEMA Corps participating in the most recent virtual meeting hosted on November 19, 2020.

WELLNESS

The Wellness Committee started 2020 off strong by recognizing faith organizations who had participated in activities and projects planned by the Wellness Committee and/or in collaboration with our partners. Certificates were printed, sleeved, and presented at 2 LTRG Townhalls. We planned an additional Meet and Greet/VOAD Informational Meeting to distribute the remainder of certificates but were required to postpone due to Covid-19 restrict ions.

Due to Covid-19, much of our focus changed to Wellness Check-in Calls/emails to faith leaders to encourage, assess needs, inform of community needs, announce available training/workshops/resources, and facilitate collaborative efforts. We also began focusing more intently on the mental health needs of the community, which seemed to be magnified by Covid-related circumstances.

Many new collaborative relationships were started or deepened, additional faith leader contacts were made, workshops and various events were promoted and even attended by committee members, many plans were formulated, but modified and often eventually postponed due to Covid-19 and related issues. The committee continued to meet 1-2 times monthly, primarily via Zoom.

CONCLUSION 

As we said before, the work in 2021 will not slow down! Please help us continue the work through spreading the word, attending our virtual town hall meetings, volunteering on a committee, and monetary donations.

We are grateful and proud of the work that has been accomplished, and we look forward to continuing to serve in 2021.

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Our Youth Ambassadors filled 300 sandbags!
Our Youth Ambassadors filled 300 sandbags!

Connecting, Engaging, and Equipping Residents with Resilience Preparedness

The LTRG offers free workshops to local organizations and congregations seeking to equip their members with preparedness for potential disasters. This quarter, two virtual workshops titled Preparedness Is Personal; Preparedness Is Us” were conducted for approximately 30 participants. The workshops' goal is to promote a cultural change from one of reaction to one of preparedness--not only for hurricanes but for any disaster that could come our way.

Our Youth Ambassadors, along with the LTRG team, partnered with the Department of Public Works in August to fill sandbags in anticipation of the 2020 Hurricane Season. More than 300 bags were filled!

Collaboration is the Key
In partnership with Guayabal Community Foundation, Inc., a member of the Puerto Rican Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (PR VOAD) in Puerto Rico, the LTRG linked a COVID-19 Community Food Distribution Drive to participants in the community. One hundred donated boxes filled with cheese, butter, milk, fresh produce (celery, tomatoes, bananas, mangoes, bags of apples, potatoes, figs), and 10 pounds of chicken were distributed to over 150 families, as some of the boxes were split and shared.

Many of the recipients served are cancer patients, elderly residents, single parents with children, and families still living under blue tarps from the 2017 Hurricane Maria. Distribution took place throughout several areas on St. Croix, reaching from the East to the West end of the island.

Caring for the most vulnerable of our population is a top priority for the St. Croix LTRG team.  We partnered with AARP Virgin Islands, the St. Thomas Long Term Recovery Group, Love City Strong in St. John, the VI VOAD, and the Department of Human Services to assemble and distribute 885 Emergency Preparedness Kits for our senior population territory-wide. The kits included flashlights, first aid kits, a whistle to signal for help, dust masks, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, insect repellent, an emergency blanket, and toilet paper. Local businesses and families rallied around this project with monetary contributions and assembly support to provide these supplies throughout the territory. The distribution per island was as follows: 500 seniors on St. Croix, 260 Seniors on St. Thomas, 125 Seniors on St. John. Each Program Manager on each island distributed the kits to seniors individually to avoid mass gatherings and promote safe social distancing during COVID-19.

Disaster Case Management
Disaster Case Managers (DCMs) are the life-line for disaster recovery in helping families access resources to recovery. During this reporting period, 101 clients were served, including two new enrollees into the program. Services continue to focus on providing financial assistance, service referrals, advocacy, and comprehensive goal setting. The program aims to attract residents whose homes are still in need of repair from damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 to assist them with any help they may need for a return to normalcy and maneuvering the requirements of different funding opportunities.

Twenty-four cases were closed this reporting cycle. Service coordination contributed to one long-standing client finally accessing a new apartment through Section 8.  This disabled client was referred after the hurricane when the landlord increased rent beyond the capacity to pay while refusing to make storm-related repairs. With the threat of homelessness looming due to the expiration of the state of emergency for eviction expiring later this year, the DCM team found a funding source to pay a portion of the moving fees, enabling the client to move.

There are currently 54 clients awaiting the Envision Tomorrow program, which provides home repairs through a federally funded program. Progress has been made in acquiring information on the steps to approve home repairs through this program. We anticipate these clients being able to continue to move toward restoration, with DCM support and guidance. One family member spoke fondly of the DCM that helped her mother recover from the storm damage:

Mother’s home was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria and despite the damages, she was forced to continue to live in the dwelling. She is a senior and appreciates her independence but struggled to go through the recovery process. She had been living in the damaged home since the hurricane and we feared for her health because of the extent of the damages. We pursued all available avenues we could find but did not get any solution. Our DCM was able to obtain funds for the necessary repairs to make the home comfortable, safe, sanitary, and secure and our mother was able to regain her life and independence.”

Unmet Needs Committee
The Unmet Needs Committee fills a critical role in disaster recovery. When a Disaster Case Manager has exhausted all resources available to a beneficiary and needs are still not met, the Unmet Needs Committee steps in to fill the gap.

With the closing of the Rebuild Program, funding was shifted to the Unmet Needs Committee to continue to support our clients. Two cases have been funded this reporting cycle:

Case 1 is a 77-year-old disabled St. Croix resident that has been living in a home severely damaged by Hurricane Maria for the past three years. This client is in poor health and legally blind. The client sustained total roof damage that resulted in massive leaks throughout the home and damage to the windows, doors, and tiled floors. The electrical wiring throughout the home sustained major damage from water entering the circuitry. Although some progress has been made, the home still has significant repairs that need to be completed to make the home livable, safe, sanitary, and secure. The Unmet Needs Committee will provide funding for the contractor fees to repair the electrical system in the home, replace damaged windows and exterior doors, and repair cracks in the interior load-bearing walls.

Case 2 is an 82-year-old St. Croix retired senior resident that sustained major damage to their home during Hurricane Maria. The damage included total loss of the roof, damaged kitchen, bathroom, windows, and floors due to the home being flooded. All appliances and furniture inside the home were destroyed. The home is still without a functioning kitchen. The Unmet Needs Committee will provide funding for the contractor to install kitchen cabinets and a sink.

Making A Difference…
The St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group is an organization committed to making a crucial difference in the lives of our community stakeholders, one life, one business, one mind at a time. While emergency relief and even intermediate recovery and survival absorb resources for the first one to two years, we believe that our community is now in a stage where it is truly able to build independence and resilience for the future. As such, the time is now to engage our communities like never before, and we thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with us now and into the future!

 

 

Helping residents stay safe through Covid!
Helping residents stay safe through Covid!
AARP &the LTRG- helping seniors with health kits!
AARP &the LTRG- helping seniors with health kits!
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A critical need is met: a new roof is celebrated!
A critical need is met: a new roof is celebrated!

Business as usual changed for the world at the onset of 2020. In the wake of the pandemic caused by the novel virus COVID-19, the way in which we connect with each other was forced to change. With the tenacious resilience of island culture, the leadership of LTRG challenged our team members never to miss a crisis. Community connection was redefined, and amazing service has been provided to the community of St. Croix!

73 Homes Rebuilt!
This reporting cycle closes out the final stateside volunteer teams. At the end of 2019, FEMA decided to discontinue the use of "invitational travel" for our volunteers, requiring teams to pay for their transportation to the island. Unexpectedly in March 2020, a travel ban was imposed on visitors to the island in response to COVID-19. These two events impacted the number of teams we were expecting to host. However, we completed three homes with 12 remaining on-island volunteers before the end of May. In the past two years, the construction team has had fantastic success, completing 53,696 total volunteer hours and completing repairs on 73 homes! By the end of June, the construction team was dismantled, and Disaster Case Managers are resourcing other on-island alternatives to continue assisting residents with repairs.

Disaster Case Management
This quarter, the LTRG Disaster Case Managers (DCMs) provided services to an active caseload comprised of 114 clients. One of the program's funding sources covering minor home repairs, the American Red Cross through the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, is finally depleted. This has decreased the Disaster Case Manager's ability to match clients with direct financial assistance for hurricane Maria home repairs.

Case closings during this quarter were 13, with three new enrollments, thus reducing the number of active cases to 104.  Four clients started the process of receiving needed repairs. Three contracts are pending, awaiting the processing of checks and finalizing agreements between the client and contractor. Five clients have been inspected by Envision Tomorrow and anxiously await their next steps to access this government-funded rebuild program. Two clients were referred to Virgin Islands Partners for Healthy Community (VIPHC) Family Care Managers for health services through the public health system.  Estimates by contractors were conducted for seven clients. DCMs also spent a day assembling "goody bags" for active clients related to preventing the spread of the COVID – 19 virus. These consisted of masks, gloves, disinfectants, and hand sanitizer and were made possible through a generous donation from the LTRG and VIPHC.

Unmet Needs Committee
The Unmet Needs Committee fills a critical role in disaster recovery. When a Disaster Case Manager (DCM) has exhausted all resources available to a beneficiary, and needs are still not met, the Unmet Needs Committee steps in to fill the gap. Since the Unmet Needs Roundtable Convened, eight St. Croix referrals have been funded. Three referral repairs were completed by the end of June, and the remaining five are in various stages of completion. The total award for these efforts was $171,995. These cases are all St. Croix residents who, for one reason or another, will not qualify for any of the federally funded rebuild programs. The following is an overview, submitted by a DCM, of one of the cases that were funded:

Like many of our underserved neighbors on St. Croix that experienced extensive damage in the storms, this resident had no choice but to remain in a damaged home, despite the unsafe and unsanitary conditions. With no resources to make the necessary repairs to the home and without the option to move elsewhere, this resident has lived under a leaking roof that has caused excessive mold growth that is now affecting the client's health. The roof had been covered by a blue tarp for nearly three full years since the hurricanes in 2017 and was no longer keeping the home dry. The award amount was $36,245 and covered the following repairs:

  • Repaired roof and ceiling
  • Removed and replaced damaged interior walls
  • Replaced exterior doors
  • Replaced all windows
  • Repaired broken masonry columns that support the roof

The repairs to the roof started at the end of June 2020, and the contractor is currently working on the roof before doing the interior repairs.

On behalf of the Long Term Recovery Group, we give thanks to GlobalGiving for understanding and working with us to use these funds to aid the most vulnerable in our community. The funds are now exhausted for this committee, and the LTRG is working to identify funding to serve more residents who have no other options.

Connecting, Engaging, and Equipping Residents with Resilience Preparedness
The LTRG offers free workshops to organizations and congregations seeking to equip their members to be "Prepared to be Your Own First Responder." The goal of the workshops is to effect a cultural change from one of reaction to one of preparedness--not only for hurricanes but for any disaster that could come our way. When the unexpected disaster of COVID-19 appeared, the LTRG leaped to action. The Disaster Preparedness Workshops are currently virtual! This quarter, three virtual workshops have been offered. Ms. Lang, a Non-Profit Community Leader, stated:

This presentation was excellent! You engaged us, equipped us, inspired us, and clearly communicated the seriousness of proper preparation. We need this all over the island, especially on the radios.

The LTRG also took advantage of our social media platforms. Six original videos were shared on Facebook to educate and engage the community while practicing social distancing each day during Hurricane Preparedness Week. Shorter versions of these videos were shared on Instagram. 31,000 users were reached via the Facebook platform! This created almost 100 new followers and a library of hurricane preparedness videos for the LTRG. Day 4, for example, provided simple ways that residents can prepare their homes and can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/stxltrg/videos/883820405428024/

We are currently "SOLD OUT" and are booked solid by public, private, and NGOs for workshops that empower our community stakeholders on personal and organizational preparedness. These workshops and the online videos are filled with practical tools and guides for each member of the family, for building strength, increasing awareness, and inspiring change.

Collaboration is the Key
In the wake of the Stay-At-Home Orders restricting movement about the island, many of our senior residents were not able to get out for essential items. The LTRG, in partnership with Mario's Crystal Water Company and the Frederiksted Lions Club, began a biweekly water distribution at the Louis E. Brown Senior Center to ensure the seniors had access to drinking water. The residents are receiving a five-gallon bottle of water with filters on a biweekly delivery schedule. The seniors were empowered with COVID-19 information flyers to become more educated on the pandemic.

To deepen our support of our community in response to COVID-19, the LTRG has also partnered with a local designer, Designs By Regal, to provide community stakeholders in grocery stores, gas stations, laundromats, and other common areas with locally designed cloth masks. This creates access to reusable masks, helping residents of St. Croix to abide by the "No Mask, No Service" Order issued to help protect against the spread of COVID-19.

During the Stay-At-Home period this quarter, we learned one of our local food distribution partners, Catholic Charities, was low on food and key essentials for the day to day operations of feeding the homeless. In partnership with TWIGS Ministry, Episcopal Deanery, Islamic Society, and members of AARP, we collectively donate items needed for our partner and critical service provider, Catholic Charities, to continue serving the homeless community.

The LTRG has also begun working with Community First in their efforts to renovate and open a safe residence shelter for the homeless members of our community. We have taken the lead by contacting our local Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) Partners to share the needs for personal hygiene items, men's clothing, and cleaning supplies. These collection efforts are ongoing for the duration of the renovation process.

The Virgin Islands Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VI VOAD) is currently meeting monthly on each island and as a territory collectively. So far, we have sourced and distributed 200 gallons of sanitizer through member organizations as well as 10,000 masks. The VI VOAD is currently working to source 1,000 hurricane preparedness kits that will be distributed across the territory to the most vulnerable populations. 

Making A Difference…
The St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group is an organization committed to making a crucial difference in the lives of our community stakeholders, one life, one business, one mind at a time. While emergency relief and even intermediate recovery and survival absorb resources for the first one to two years, we believe that our community is now in a stage where it is truly able to build independence and resilience for the future. As such, the time is now to engage our communities like never before, and we thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with us now and into the future!

Spreading Health & Access to Masks Amid Recovery!
Spreading Health & Access to Masks Amid Recovery!
Ensuring seniors have drinking water in quarantine
Ensuring seniors have drinking water in quarantine
Supplies for our nonprofits to serve our homeless
Supplies for our nonprofits to serve our homeless
Increasing preparedness one workshop at a time!
Increasing preparedness one workshop at a time!
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To date, 200 residents are trained for resilience!
To date, 200 residents are trained for resilience!

The St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group (LTRG) is a cooperative body that is made up of representatives from faith-based, non-profit, government, business and other organizations working within St. Croix to assist individuals and families as they recover from Hurricane Maria. The goal of the LTRG is to unite recovery resources with community needs in order to ensure that even the most vulnerable in the community recover from the disaster.

73 Homes and More to Serve...
In this reporting quarter, the St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group construction and rebuild program suffered some setbacks. At the end of 2019, FEMA decided to discontinue the use of “invitational travel” for our volunteer teams, requiring teams to now pay for their transportation to the island. The impact is that the number of teams we were expecting to host, and the frequency in which the teams are coming, has slowed. To date, however, we have hosted 58 volunteer teams who have contributed 51,821 volunteer labor hours and completed 73 homes!

The impact of the decrease in volunteer labor requires that we re-evaluate the number of homes we have in our queue. We have reduced that number to 23 homes and suspended intake and evaluation on 45 homes. Our Disaster Case Managers (DCM) will continue to seek alternative solutions for those 45 families.

Disaster Case Management
As has been reported, the loss of federal funding to hire critical DCMs required the LTRG to piece together funds through grants from various philanthropic sources. Thanks to our partners from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) and the United Methodist Committee on Relief we have been granted salaries for two DCMs. And because of the generosity of our GlobalGiving family, a territory-wide grant as well as an additional grant, we were able to hire three more DCMs.

During this quarter, our case managers have served and continue to serve a total of 204 cases. Of those, 134 are still active, and 70 cases have been closed.

The EnVIsion program, a HUD-funded rebuild program operated by the VI government, has begun to take clients. This has allowed our DCMs to assist clients with a new resource. It has also reduced the number of new clients.

Unmet Needs Committee
The Unmet Needs Committee fills a critical role in disaster recovery. When a DCM has exhausted all resources available to a beneficiary, and needs are still not met, then the Unmet Needs Committee steps in to fill the gap. The Unmet Needs Roundtable convened for the first time in this reporting period. During this meeting, four cases referred to the committee by our Disaster Case Managers were funded-- a total of $90,495.00. These cases are all St. Croix residents who, for one reason or another, will not qualify for any of the federally funded rebuild programs. The following is an overview, submitted by a DCM, of one of the cases that was funded:

Client is a single elderly individual that lives alone and survives on a fixed income that limits their ability to make the needed repairs to their home on their own. Client is in a situation where they do not have the support of family to assist in their recovery process and therefore needs assistance. Client has been living in substandard conditions for the past 2 years and continues to do so without much of the basic living amenities. The impact of the storm resulted in client losing the roof of their home along with damages to their floors, windows, doors, electrical, and to the kitchen and bathrooms. Client also lost most of their personal items and appliances. Over the past two years, client was living in the home with a tarp roof that went beyond its useful life that contributed to further damages to various systems and fixtures throughout the interior of the home. In August 2019 client received a newly constructed roof through the Lutheran Disaster Response volunteer rebuild program. However, despite getting the new roof, there are some additional repair items that are required to get the home to a place where it is safe, sanitary and secured. At this time, we are seeking financial assistance from the Unmet Needs Roundtable to fund the completion of the repairs to their home, so they move forward with some level of normalcy in their everyday lives.

Many thanks to GlobalGiving for understanding and working with us to use these funds to provide assistance to the most vulnerable in our community. We will have exhausted available funds for this committee within the next month. The LTRG continues to work to identify additional funding for this critical piece of recovery.

Connecting, Engaging, and Equipping Residents with Resilience Preparedness
As previously reported, The LTRG began offering free workshops to organizations and congregations seeking to equip their members to be "Prepared to be Your Own First Responder." The goal of the workshops is to effect a cultural change from one of reaction to one of preparedness--not only for hurricanes but for any disaster that could come our way. We have now offered this workshop 7 times and worked with more than 200 community members. One attendee said, "You made me feel cared for and I can prepare even with a small budget. I hope you come back again to do more trainings." Another attendee offered this feedback, "More people need this information and presentation. You spoke with passion, engaged the audience, cared about the people and used very practical examples." We will continue to offer these workshops in 2020 and plan to expand them to include information about VI VOAD.

Finally, we are pleased to announce that the VI VOAD has been reactivated! VOAD is an acronym for Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. The Virgin Islands VOAD has been recruiting member organizations on all three islands and holding monthly meetings.

Making A Difference…
The St. Croix Long Term Recovery Group is an organization committed to making a memorable difference in the lives of our community stakeholders, one life, one business, one mind at a time. While emergency relief and even intermediate recovery and survival absorb resources for the first one to two years, we believe that our community is now in a stage where it is truly able to build independence and resilience for the future. As such, the time is now to engage our communities like never before and we thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with us now and into the future!

Unmet needs get met with the St. Croix LTRG!
Unmet needs get met with the St. Croix LTRG!
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Organization Information

St. Croix Foundation for Community Development

Location: Christiansted - Virgin Islands
Website:
Twitter: @stxfoundation
Project Leader:
Deanna James
Christiansted, Virgin Islands
$815,418 raised of $1,000,000 goal
 
119 donations
$184,582 to go
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