Visiting division disaster director Megan Chamberlain of the American Red Cross Northern Central Division shared critical updates on the 90-day disaster case management program for Saipan during a Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Efforts meeting last week.
She said caseworkers have begun calling clients and setting up appointments this week to help those ineligible for FEMA and/or SBA assistance.
Chamberlain said this partnership with Federal Emergency Management Agency has allowed the employment of 22 individuals for disaster case management training.
“We have our case managers that we’ve trained and then have them work through with the clients to make an appeal to FEMA if they were denied and shouldn’t have, or if they applied to SBA or if they applied their insurance and were denied or if they don’t know how to. Working through that step-by-step and depending on what their needs are, the [caseworkers] may follow up once a week or once a month. They have to exhaust all the resources before they can come to CARE and are considered the most vulnerable of the population,” she said.
According to statistics gathered by FEMA and Red Cross, caseworkers have reached out to 734 families. Of that number, 459 could be reached but only 383 clients indicated that they would seek assistance from SBA.
During another batch of client outreach, caseworkers attempted to reach 310 clients but managed to contact 108 only. However, only 51 indicated they have unmet needs and required a further appointment with caseworkers.
“With the lack of resources available here, the recommendation of the Red Cross and FEMA was to start a 90-day program to quickly activate services on island. We are tasked at looking at all the different lists that the community has pulled together and determine who needs assistance the most. We have a team of seven that came over from the mainland and we found that clients were able to tell their stories to local hires in their native languages has been very helpful…if we can meet that need, we can open a case and close it really quickly,” she said.
Chamberlain flew in during the first week of Typhoon Soudelor, working with the American Red Cross NMI Chapter’s response team, spending six weeks assessing the damage. She is one of five disaster directors in the United States and works out of the Midwest and has been with the Red Cross for 15 years, serving in many large scale disaster operations such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.