Councilwoman Forms Group to Assist Flood Victims
Lonni Miller Ryan wants to help with long-term recovery efforts.
Councilwoman Lonni Miller Ryan is spearheading an effort to assist flood victims long after floodwaters have drained away and dried up.
Ryan has organizaed a group of volunteers to help flood victims with long-term recovery efforts.
“What we’ve seen is that when the floodwater recede the need for help and aid does not go away,” Ryan said. “It just goes from emergency assistance to having to put your life back together.”
The group will help people to clean up their homes, file insurance claims, and organize fundraising efforts, among other things.
The group will also assist town officials to identify those flood victims who need long-term assistance.
“There are so many resources out there for victims but in order to get those resources to them, we need to know where they are and what they need,” Ryan said.
The group will file for non-profit status after it is formally organized and named.
“We still have people who are not in their homes, who are still displaced after the severe flooding that occurred last year,” Ryan said. “There are a lot of people who are still struggling who need our help.”
Ryan is only working with a few people so far, but she wants to expand the number of volunteers and organizations the group will work with. She has already spoken with Regina Parks, the township’s social services director. Parks will act as a contact person between the group and the township.
“I think there are a lot of people who are out there who still need our help and together we’re going to try our best to get them that help,” Parks said.
Wayne Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) is also lending its support. There are parallels to VOAD's founding and the group Ryan has organized.
VOAD was formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The severity of the flooding Irene caused was so great that local officials had difficulty responded to everyone’s needs in a timely manner. Rev. Karyn Ratcliffe and others formed the organization to assist others with short-term recovery efforts like cooking and delivering hot meals to flood victims who lost power for days.
Ratcliffe, who is the pastor of Packanack Community Church, said she has offered Ryan her, and VOAD’s, “full support.”
“There is currently no system in place to identify the unmet needs of our residents so I’m thrilled that she is undertaking this effort,” Ratcliffe said. “It allows VOAD to utilize our resources to help people in need.”
For more information or to volunteer, call Ryan at 973-686-3660.