In recent weeks, we’ve seen news stories that share the experience of the hundreds of families and thousands of people affected by the tornadoes that ripped through the region in September. We’ve also all heard directly from our friends, our family and our neighbours: this natural disaster has impacted so many – creating financial insecurity, impacting health and wellness and destroying homes.
Although in many cases, it has brought the community together in ways we could have never anticipated.
Grassroots groups are forming, advocating, and making an impact. Long-standing community organizations are working together. Individuals are donating their time, talents, and funds to help. And of course, the media is shining a spotlight on all of it – to give people a voice, and to hold everyone accountable.
It’s a big job, recovering from a disaster like this. But it’s an important task – one that United Way, our partners and donors, are up to tackling.
An Update: The Needs We Face
Since just hours after the tornadoes touched down, United Way Ottawa has been working closely with front-line agencies and community associations to understand what people need, and work closely with our After the Storm partners to invest and help address those needs. With this knowledge, we’re also continuing to rally the community for further support.
Here’s what we know today:
- The community needs support for their basic needs – timely assistance for fundamentals like clothing, gas and other household supplies.
- They need support to access counselling and help navigating vital community services.
- Connection is a fundamental piece of recovery, especially for seniors who need to feel safe and supported by their community.
- Food security continues to be an issue – as demand may fluctuate into the winter months, we must ensure food banks and agencies can provide people with fresh, healthy food.
As time passes after the storm, these needs continue to change and evolve. That’s why United Way Ottawa brought together a group of key organizations to form the After the Storm partners table.
How the Table Works
The After the Storm partners table is made up of 13 groups – and counting. Together we share information, coordinate on addressing the community’s needs, and aim to make sure no one is forgotten in the wake of this natural disaster.
The goal of this group is to ensure all funds raised for tornado relief are invested where they are needed most and where they will have the greatest impact.
Since the first few days after the storm, United Way has been encouraging these partners to share knowledge and information so each organization can respond to the needs of the community quickly, accurately, and effectively.
To date, United Way Ottawa has invested $231,000 including $20,000 worth of in-kind gifts into the neighbourhoods hit hardest by the storms. We also recently announced that funds raised at CUPE 503’s Tornado Relief Benefit Concert will be put to work in the community in just a few days. Donations collected on Saturday will be helping those most in need by Friday.
There are many other organizations at the table making smart, impactful investments in community to help those hit hardest by the storm. This includes:
- West Carleton Disaster Relief, an organization that formed in direct response to this storm, has set up eight different programs to deliver immediate support to families in need.
- The Ottawa Senators Foundation has invested to support food security and mental health counselling in Ottawa and Gatineau neighbourhoods hit by tornadoes.
- The Salvation Army delivered basic needs like clothing, furniture and hot meals to more than 114 families.
- The Ottawa Food Bank, who has seen an increase in demand of 33 per cent over the same period last year, recently released a report which shared their local response to date.
- Ottawa Community Housing partnered with the Ottawa Food Bank to deliver food and basic supplies to families and individuals who lost power in the storms.
- The Canadian Red Cross continues to encourage people to register by calling 1-800-863-6582. They also shared a recent press release detailing their efforts.
And this is just a snapshot – many more organizations are participating and working their hardest to help residents who need resources to recover from the tornadoes.
A full framework capturing all the needs, and every organization’s investment to address those needs, will be shared on November 15th, 2018, when After the Storm table partners will meet for a public meeting at 1:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.