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With Many Rural Nonprofits Decimated Post-Hurricane, Red Cross Connecting People With Resources

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The Capital Area Red Cross is shifting from what Director Sharon Tyler calls “response mode” to “recovery mode.” That means, in some cases, contacting those who didn’t reach out for help in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

Tyler says when her agency shifts to the “recovery” phase, one primary function is connecting those affected by a disaster with resources from local nonprofits. But, in the case of Hurricane Michael, many nonprofits took devastating damage.

“Our rural counties have got some strong partners that we work with – however the ones in Bay and Gulf, Jackson and Calhoun, those were really affected. And many of their offices were destroyed,” Tyler said. “Our office in Panama City was destroyed.”

That’s why, according to Tyler, many in rural North Florida are being referred to out-of-county nonprofits, like some in the Capital City. But, not everyone reaches out for help.

“We had what we called a Latin engagement team that came in. And they specifically, in all the counties that were affected, went into as many areas looking for underserved populations,” Tyler said. “In some of our counties we’ve got a larger migrant population, some other parts of our counties we’ve got a larger Hispanic population, over in Panama City there’s an underserved Asian population. We’re trying to reach the folks that won’t necessarily reach out for help.”

The Red Cross receives information on who is in need from FEMA. December 10 is the deadline for individuals and households to apply for disaster assistance.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.