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AUSTIN EDITION - Flood-help group keeps knocking

By Roxana Orellana

rorellana@postbulletin.com

The Sept. 15 flood might be a fading memory for some Austin residents, but for others, the flood is still taking its toll.

A local organization continues its assistance for flood victims still trying to recover.

Volunteers from the Austin Area Interfaith Disaster Response group ventured door to door this weekend, in an effort to reach out to flood victims. The Rev. Scott Monson said the 38 volunteers visited about 300 homes during the three-hour canvassing on Saturday.

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"Not everyone was home, but a good share were," Monson said. "We found quite a number of families who still need some help to gain full recovery."

Some flood victims still need everything, some did not get enough help and others have not even registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Monson said. Some had not even heard of FEMA.

Those reached were asked questions about their needs and given information on FEMA and the Austin Area Interfaith Disaster Response group.

The interfaith group continues to receive funding for disaster relief.

"Because we are an interfaith group, we're trying to leverage contributions from major national church denominational bodies, and that takes times," Monson said.

Monson said those making the contributions like to know how many people are in need and what the needs are.

"It's hard to just get the money without having specifics," Monson said.

So far, the group has received about $25,000 from church-related organizations to be used for disaster recovery.

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The volunteers found that the majority of the needs in the Austin area come from personal property not covered by flood insurance.

The Austin Area Interfaith Disaster Response group is hoping to recruit volunteer case workers to work with residents and figure out if they need to be referred to other agencies or helped directly with cash grants or volunteer labor.

"It's very individualized. We don't just write checks," Monson said. "We're also trying to be holistic with this, helping people spiritually and emotionally."

Cases will be prioritized depending on the family's situation, trying to serve those with the greater needs first.

The group will continue to help until it runs out of money or people with needs. During the 2000 flood, the interfaith group continued to help for about a year.

"It's been over two months, and just because the flood is becoming a fading memory for a lot of people, the people who were impacted, we have not forgotten them," Monson said. "That's a big role of what we do as an interfaith group, to make sure we keep checking on people."

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