UWWV to support tornado victims with $2.73M grant

Nov. 20—United Way of the Wabash Valley will receive up to $2.73 million to help support the relief efforts in Sullivan after the devastation from the March 31 tornado.

The funding was made possible through United Way of the Wabash Valley's membership with Indiana United Ways, the state professional association for 42 of Indiana's 44 United Ways.

The tornado ripped through the community claiming three lives, injuring others and damaging or destroying 200 structures, 150 of which were in city limits. The National Weather Service later determined the tornado was an EF3 with peak winds of 155 miles per hour.

Immediately after the tornado, the Wabash Valley Community Foundation and United Way of the Wabash Valley mobilized, along with numerous other organizations, to help bring resources to those in need.

Under direction from the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters, a national 501c3 that helps communities across the country manage disaster recovery efforts, the Sullivan County Long-Term Tornado Recovery Coalition was formed to aid in the distribution of donated and granted recovery funds.

The Wabash Valley Community Foundation is providing fiscal oversight and sponsorship to the coalition and their Help Sullivan Recover Fund while the United Way of the Wabash Valley is administering outside grant funding.

Following the initial work of the coalition, and after the FEMA funding process, it was apparent that the need in the area was much larger than the funding that had been secured. The coalition has been handling more than 180 cases; and while many have been closed with FEMA and SBA aid, there are still 70 open cases seeking additional assistance.

The Help Sullivan Recover Fund has raised approximately $1.15 million. Because of this great need, which exceeded the Help Recover Sullivan funding, the United Way of the Wabash Valley worked with Indiana United Ways to secure a grant from their Indiana Natural Disaster Fund.

Richard Payonk, director of the recovery coalition said, "We are grateful to Indiana United Ways, and that organization's primary funder, for recognizing the devastation in Sullivan County and granting these additional relief and recovery funds. Our local donors have been tremendous, but this grant will now make it possible to take our recovery efforts so much farther than we had hoped."

For more information on the Sullivan County Long-Term Tornado Recovery Coalition, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/scltrc