Bryan County Commissioners signed an agreement Tuesday which will allow the United Way of the Coastal Empire to take the lead in dealing with donor disaster relief funding.
The memorandum of understanding between the county and United Way of the Coastal Empire means the non-profit will establish and run a Bryan County Disaster Relief Fund.
The measure came as a result of the April 5 tornado, which killed one person and injured at least a dozen people while destroying a number of homes and other structures. In the aftermath, more than $58,000 was raised in donations to help victims of the tornado, according to county officials.
So far, donations have helped 30 households, distributing around $29,000. Officials say people impacted by the tornado can still get funding by reaching out to the United Way.
Brynn Grant, the president and CEO of the UWCE, said the partnership was part of the nonprofit’s effort to help communities in need.
“The United Way mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our communities and that is what this partnership does,” Grant said in an email. “It allows us to use the tools we have to support our friends and neighbors in the most efficient and effective ways in times of crisis. Certainly, the April 5 tornado in North Bryan highlighted the need and the value of working together. We are very proud to be advancing this partnership officially with Bryan County and hank everyone involved for vision and leadership.”
Money distributed so far has gone to help fund everything from funeral expenses to moving mobile homes, roof repairs, insurance deductibles, gas cards, rent, motel rooms and other expenses suffered by victims, according to county officials.
In the immediate aftermath of the April 5 tornado, the United Way teamed up with Bryan County Family Connection to help organize relief efforts among dozens of agencies while raising funds and donations Wendy Futch, executive director of BCFC, said the agreement will benefit Bryan County residents.
“The United Way is a great private partner, we work very well together and we appreciate their efforts and their help in Bryan County,” she said.
The formal agreement allows UWCE to “create, manage and solicit donations for a Bryan County Disaster Relief Fund after a large disaster,” according to the county, which said similar formal arrangements are in effect in Chatham and Effingham counties, and officials in Liberty County are also working toward a similar agreement.
The nonprofit agency is continuing to help victims of the EF4 tornado, which had estimated peak winds of 185 mph and traveled through North Bryan from Pembroke into Blitchton, roughly 14.5 miles.
After Tuesday’s vote, County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger said he’d just visited Park Place, one of the neighborhoods destroyed by the tornado.
“If anybody needs anything out there or in any other neighborhood, please reach out to the United Way,” he said.
Those impacted should apply directly with the United Way office in Pembroke by calling 912-651-7753 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.