About 150 people attended a meeting at the Orange County Convention and Expo Center Thursday night to help organize a Long-Term Disaster Recovery Board. A similar organization was created following the flooding of the Sabine and Neches Rivers in March of 2016. That board lasted only about a year.
The county’s Special Projects Coordinator Michelle Tubbleville (right) is optimistic the new Long-Term Disaster Recovery Board will be successful and longer lasting this time. She said they are trying to identify the community that is interested in being actively involved in recovery for the county. Tubbleville predicted, “It’s going to be strong and it’s going to be a continuing group that doesn’t disband in a year. We have great community leaders here that are going to keep it strong so when a next disaster happens we’re going to be prepared for it and be able to actively start long-term recovery sooner than expected.”
After County Judge Brint Carlton gave an opening address, Stephanie Brady gave a presentation on what a Long-Term Disaster Recovery Board is and how it operates. Brady is from Joplin, Missouri where she chaired a recovery board after a devastating tornado hit her city.
Brady shared what is necessary to bounce back from a disaster like a tornado or a flood is having a community of leaders who are not afraid to come together and work, listen to each other, and understand the differences. “The plan is for this committee to really be going within the next 30 days so that especially for funding and volunteers coming in, to really be able to get it to where this structure is moving forward quickly,” Brady emphasized.
The Long-Term Disaster Recovery Board is a joint project between Orange, Jefferson, and Hardin Counties. The board being created will be composed of nine members, three from each county with an executive director chosen under the board.
There will also be three Advisory Boards, one for each county. The Advisory Boards will each be comprised of five committees of local citizens: Fundraising; Volunteer; Unmet Needs; Construction; and Crisis Counseling and Spiritual Care. Jefferson and Hardin Counties will be holding similar organizational meetings like Thursday’s to get started.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-