SAVANNAH, GA. – United Way of the Coastal Empire’s Women Who Rule campaign and event,…
SAVANNAH, GA. – Following historic severe weather and the subsequent tornado that inflicted extreme damage to North Bryan County on April 5, 2022, United Way of the Coastal Empire launched a Disaster Relief Fund, raising thousands of dollars to support those impacted by the tornado.
The United Way of the Coastal Empire Disaster Relief Fund was quickly set up to help residents across the county impacted by the weather system for immediate and long-term recovery. Over $58,000 was contributed by donors from across the region. United Way used those funds to pay for a variety of needs, including insurance deductibles, gas cards, rental assistance, veterinary bills, and even funeral expenses. All funds have now been distributed.
While United Way focused on its core competencies of raising and distributing resources where most needed, other partners like Bryan County Family Connections, as well as disaster response experts like the American Red Cross, and many faith-based organizations were active on the front lines.
“We were really interested in making sure we were using the Disaster Relief Funds to support the long-term recovery of those affected by the tornado. We were also aware that the needs of the families would not end when the debris was cleared and the initial damage was repaired,” says Brianne Yontz, Bryan County area director for United Way of the Coastal Empire. “As we reflect back on the year since the tornado, we are humbled by those who gave of their time and resources to rally around the North Bryan community.”
In January, United Way announced signed formalized regional agreements with emergency management officials in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties to activate disaster response fundraising efforts in the event of a natural disaster or other significant hazards that negatively impact our region.
The purpose of these partnerships is to help facilitate disaster recovery in United Way’s four-county service area in the most efficient and effective ways to maximize the individual strengths of all for the greatest good.
United Way’s role, as defined by the agreements, is to spearhead fundraising efforts for disaster response, then distribute funds in partnership with emergency management experts through organizations providing client assistance and case management services as well as to clients through United Way’s 211 Information and Referral Service and County Service Centers in Bryan, Effingham, and Liberty counties.
“Through these agreements, we will use our assets and our abilities to do what we do well — to mobilize necessary resources and work with our Emergency Management Agency partners, the Coastal Empire Disaster Recovery Committee, and other nonprofits to support those most severely impacted when disasters happen. We will leave the emergency response on the ground to those who have the expertise in that space and do it so well,” said Brynn Grant, president and CEO of the United Way of the Coastal Empire.
Local governments and United Way have long enjoyed cooperative relationships, but officials say the new formal agreements and clearer processes will make it easier for all involved in emergency management to bolster their combined response in the event of an emergency situation.
“United Way of the Coastal Empire’s mission is to mobilize the caring power of this community to improve lives. These signed partnership agreements fulfill that mission by helping to ensure the greatest effectiveness in securing and deploying resources in the aftermath of a natural disaster or threats to our communities,” said Grant. “These agreements are a major step forward for regional collaboration.”
“This agreement is an important step in getting Bryan County citizens the help they need after a disaster. United Way can streamline the process for donations and assistance, which frees County staff to provide other assistance. I hope that we are never hit with any other disaster, but I am proud to be officially collaborating with United Way to aid Bryan County in the future,” said Bryan County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger.