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SAVANNAH, GA (January 10, 2023) – Today, United Way of the Coastal Empire officials stood together with emergency management leaders of Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties to announce signed agreements 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 Call Center and County Service Centers in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties.

Local governments and United Way have long enjoyed cooperative relationships, but United Way 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. A major step forward for regional collaboration, 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,” says United Way of the Coastal Empire President and CEO Brynn Grant.

These formalized regional agreements come just months after a tornado devastated parts of Bryan County on April 5, 2022.

“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.

Chatham County Emergency Management Agency Director Dennis Jones said, “The Disaster Relief Fund is a crucial step forward for our community’s recovery if there is a large-scale event. Now, immediately following a disaster, the United Way will have the ability to harness the generosity of donors, both locally and from across the country, to directly support disaster survivors within Chatham County.”

Effingham County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Agency Director Clint Hodges said, “It allows us to get resources into the hands of people who need them as quickly as we possibly can.”

“I think it’s a great partnership with United Way, and it allows us to get the resources to the residents of Liberty County in a large-scale disaster, said Robert Dodd, Liberty County EMA Director.

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