DAYTON, Ohio – The Memorial Day tornadoes left damage and destruction that is still being felt by families across the Miami Valley.
In the wake of the storms, many community organizers and city officials created resource centers for families and individuals who lost their homes and many of their possessions.
One of those resource centers, the Shiloh Tornado Resource Center, working out of Shiloh Church on Philadelphia Drive in Dayton, has continued to host fundraisers and keep their resources available for those in need.
Many of the tornado-related food pantries and resource centers set up in the immediate aftermath of the tornado closed after the initial push for aid slowed down in the weeks following the storms.
According to Shiloh Tornado Resource Center, the community is still very much in need and the recovery is still an ongoing concern for them.
“This is not over,” said Disaster Coordinator Sarah Moore. “The people that have been affected by the tornado really do still need community support.”
Outside of providing basic household items or clothing, the center is also focused on the specific needs of individuals and helping in ways that may not have been immediately necessary in the first days following the tornadoes.
The center specifically supports those with mental and physical disabilities, health concerns, and low incomes. Services they’ve provided have been helping individuals manage their daily mail, contact doctors, and assist with daily routines families may now be struggling with.
“It’s hard to keep track of your stuff when you don’t have a place,” Moore said. “You have to have a home base to operate effectively. When you don’t have that, we have to be that place.”
Some of the ways they continue to support those in need outside of food is by providing housing support, finding special needs hotels, assisting with child care costs or moving expenses, as well as work referrals and professional assessments.
According to the shelter, a major ongoing problem they have seen is the limited availability of affordable housing.
“Lack of affordable housing is going to impact the elderly and disabled the most,” Moore said. “They don’t have the flexibility and the budget to respond to the prices that have gone up.”
Moore said the competition for housing units has also created a burden on families with restricted incomes. If multiple people apply for an apartment lease, a landlord will most likely choose the individual with the best financial security.
“The landlord will choose the best candidate, often that’s not our client,” Moore said. “It takes several false starts to find people a place to live.”
The resource center plans to continue to operate as long as the community still requires their assistance. They have held multiple online and event fundraisers in recent weeks, such as a recent car wash fundraiser.
“I knew when we launched the family assistance program that people that have disabilities and other existing problems aren’t going to manage a natural disaster well,” Moore said. “But seeing what it takes is a lot. It’s very intense work.”
For individuals seeking assistance, the resource center can be contacted through their Facebook page or reaching out through Shiloh Church. The church does require that individuals have documentation proving their hardships or an address in a tornado-affected area.
“This is going to be ongoing for a while,” Moore said. “There’s people that are still homeless and suffering.”
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