Unmet Needs Committee still processing applicationsAfter a July 8 tornado ripped through south Dickinson, many residents were left without a home or some of the most basic necessities.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
After a July 8 tornado ripped through south Dickinson, many residents were left without a home or some of the most basic necessities.
A few citizens stepped up and organized Tornado Band-Aid Relief and the community raised about $94,000, which the Unmet Needs Committee is helping disperse to those most in need.
The tornado’s wrath is still visible in south Dickinson and payouts from the committee could take until the end of the summer to complete.
Out of the 48 applications for assistance, 20 of those have been funded, said Pastor Steve Tangen, the committee’s chairman.
Each applicant is then assigned a case manager who reviews the applicant’s financial status, living circumstances — whether displaced or living in a home that is still being renovated — and damage sustained by the tornado, Tangen said.
“After the case manager meets with the applicant, then a determination is made in terms of the funds that will be provided to that applicant,” Tangen said. “In order for that person to receive funds, they either have to provide us with receipts from expenses incurred because of the tornado or we will provide credit at a vendor such as a hardware store or a lumber company where they can go and purchase what they need for their remodeling project.”
Tangen said because obtaining the money is a fairly complicated process and hiring contractors can take a while, some of the applications are taking longer.
“Some we acted on two months ago and some are taking longer in part because some of the applicants are still waiting for work to be done and are still waiting to have the bills to give us to provide them with the dollars.”
“We have 16 more that are in the process of nearing completion and then we have 12 with families that either didn’t qualify or they decided not to participate in the process.”
Out of a raised total of $94,000, $90,000 was allotted for the 48 applicants.
“To date, we have approved $33,420 to be given to those applicants, which means we have about $60,000 left,” Tangen said.
Because 12 dropped out or didn’t qualify, the fund will have a residual balance when the 36 are completed.
One of two things will be done with the remaining money.
The application process will be reopened for people who have discovered damage or who have unmet needs and didn’t apply.
Applications that had the most significant financial needs will then be revisited.
“We will fund some of those applications again,” Tangen said.
Tangen said each time the committee meets, they act on as few as three to as many as seven, and an average brings the committee’s approximate completion date “well into the end of January.”
“We have been meeting regularly since August and now at every meeting we review applications and approve applications for funding,” Tangen said.
Kristi Pechtl, executive director of Arts on the Prairie and one of the benefit’s organizers, said gathering volunteers, organizing the event and beginning the disbursement process in two months was a remarkable thing.
“My opinion is that if you’re a person who’s waiting who needs that money, that had to be an agonizingly long two months,” Pechtl said. “It depends on which side of the coin you’re sitting on. If you’re a person that needs that money, two months is a long time.”
Pechtl said several people were unaware of the available money, so the deadline to apply was extended.
“That is one of the things I think that held it up a little bit,” Pechtl said.
Shawn Kessel, city administrator and a member of the committee, said though he hasn’t fielded any negative phone calls regarding the funds, there have been concerns raised about the fund disbursement taking longer than expected.
A commemorative DVD was made and could be preordered for $15 at the July 19 benefit.
The money was then added to the Unmet Needs Fund.
“There were about 40 or 45 pre-sales,” Pechtl said. “You should see it. I watched it and I cried like a baby.”
Pechtl said the DVD is a good reminder to others that people are still hurting.
“Even now, what are we, five months after the catastrophe, here we are and there are still people that need things,” Pechtl said. “So I just think that it would be great if we could have more community awareness that there are things that people still need because, especially during the season of giving, we should still be doing everything that we can. We can’t just forget about it.”
Unmet Needs Committee meets again on Wednesday.