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Victims still coming forward five months after the Jefferson City tornado

Almost five months after an EF-3 rated tornado wrecked parts of Jefferson City, people are still coming forward in need of help, and one charity organization says that won’t end anytime soon.

Catholic Charities of Missouri is a part of the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Committee, a coalition of not-for-profit organizations providing victims and families with disaster case management.

Dan Lester, executive director of Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri, said the organization has two full-time case managers who walk victims through recovering from the storm.

“We meet with survivors, we come up with a recovery plan with them that’s really driven by what their needs are,” Lester said. “And of course it looks different for all sorts of different people.”

Catholic Charities has 55 open cases and 25 that have been closed. The organization anticipates about 300 households in Cole and Miller counties will need some disaster case management.

The case managers are funded through a grant from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, but Catholic Charities is still waiting to see if Missouri will receive a disaster case management program and funding from the federal level.

While Catholic Charities has provided around $22,000 in direct financial assistance to victims, they work with other organization and the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Committee to make sure all sources are being used.

“We’re always going to work with survivors first to see, is there insurance money available, is there FEMA money available?” Lester said. “And if there isn’t who can we go to at Catholic Charities or in the broader community that might have some funding for assistance?”

With the temperatures dropping more families could come forward in need of help. One family who came to Catholic Charities was living in their car, Lester said.

Lester saud many victims of natural disasters will not come forward and ask for help and they don’t know about the resources available, despite the efforts of these organizations.

“These natural disasters really throw people’s lives into an upheaval,” Lester said. “So I think that it’s really easy for them to miss out on some of these opportunities.”

Lester said they are also worried about the individuals that were given immediate assistance, but now are having trouble keeping up with the recovery process.

But this time of year also brings some good news for survivors, as more organizations are having charity fundraisers for the holidays. Lester said they are working with groups to make sure the diaster victims are a part of the conversation.

Lester encouraged anyone in need of assistance to reach out to Catholic Charities at (573) 635-7719 or


Article Topic Follows: Cole

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