Committee Forms for Dorian Recovery

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Pastor Ivey Belch at the October 13 meeting
Pastor Ivey Belch at the October 13 meeting

A new committee, OIRRT, to lead longterm recovery coordination for the island.

On Sunday, October 13th, about fifty Ocracoke residents gathered at the Lifesaving Church to learn about the newly-formed Ocracoke Interfaith Relief and Recovery Team (OIRRT).

The chair, Ivey Belch, explained that OIRRT is a LTRG (longterm recovery group), which is a collaborative effort between faith-based organizations, non-profits, government agencies, businesses, and individuals. It's purpose is to provide help and advocacy for those in need. Their mission statement includes meeting needs, collaborating with other organizations, advocating for the vulnerable, and advocating for preparedness for future events. 

The OIRRT will function as part of the process that includes the Joint Recovery Center (JRC), the Unmet Needs Committee, caseworkers, and partner groups with money or goods to distribute. 

If you are an Ocracoke resident, and are suffering losses (house, stuff, job) because of Dorian and you need help, the first thing you need to do is fill out paperwork. Also, don't be shy about asking for stuff. Nothing is too big. Ask for everything you need, even if you think others are worse off. Encourage your friends to ask and fill out the paperwork.

Go to the Joint Recovery Center (the big rig in the Variety Store parking lot) and fill out a form. If you mark the box that says you "consent to sharing" the information, your information will go to the OIRRT, which will then share it with the Unmet Needs Committee, which will assign you a caseworker, who will try to find what you need from one of their partner entities.

Committee Forms for Dorian Recovery


That's a lot of steps, so Ivey created a graphic to help explain it. The JRC is the head, the OIRRT, Unmet Needs Committee, and caseworkers comprise the torso, and the partner groups are the legs. (See photo.)

When the OIRRT passes on your information through the Unmet Needs Committee and the caseworkers, it will be anonymous by the time it reaches the partners, who may or may not fill the request. If they do, the Unmet Needs Committee will consider it a met need; if not, the request will cycle back to the caseworkers and go to another partner. 

Let's talk about Who's Who:

The OIRRT is: Ivey Belch, Lifesaving Church pastor, chair; Misty Gibbs of Hyde Health, co-chair; Darlene Styron, VOAD (volunteer organization active in a disaster) coordinator; Connie Leinbach, secretary and PIO (public information officer); Susie Fitch-Slater, Ocracoke United Methodist pastor and Unmet Needs Committee chair; Twig Rollins, Methodist Disaster coordinator and construction advisor; Jen Mongan, receiving and distribution at the Fire Mart; Jeff Dippold, representative from the Outer Banks Community Foundation (OBCF)/Ocracoke Fire Protection Association (OFPA) Recovery Fund; Margarita Gonzalez, Latino community representative; Stephen Basnight, Hyde County Schools superintendent; Helena Stevens, Ocracoke Civic and Business Association.  

Unmet Needs Committee: Susie Fitch-Slater, chair; Ed Cody, and Ocracoke's three caseworkers: Andrea Cody, Desiree Ricker, Trish Davis. They also hope to add two members from Ocracoke's Latino community.

Partner Entities: on Ocracoke -- OBCF/OFPA/OVFD; Lifesaving Church; Ocracoke United Methodist Church; Receiving and Distribution (includes donations from Lowe's Home Depot, etc.) Off the island -- potential grant resources. 

The OIRRT has a hierarchy of needs that they will follow when they decide how to distribute money and donated items: 1. medical needs 2. elderly 3. single parents 4. families with young children 5. everyone else.  

The biggest fund at Ocracoke's disposal is the one from the Outer Banks Community Foundation. As of today, it's about $900,000. That money is being distributed by OFPA.

It gets more complicated -- if you choose to, you may bypass the JRC and the OIRRT and go directly to the OBCF/OFPA to request help. It won't be anonymous, but it might be quicker.  

"The Fire Department's intention is to review cases quickly," Jeff Dippold said. 

But, if the request goes through the OIRRT, then that group will attempt to find a solution without using their cash on hand. For example, let's assume someone needs a water heater because theirs was flooded. S/he is elderly, so high on the priority list. But, as Ivey explained it, rather than buy that person a new water heater, the OIRRT committees/caseworkers will try to find another way to get the water heater -- might someone donate one? If they think they can get one donated, they won't use the cash.

To the crowd who came out for information, that example appears to prolong the amount of time it will take until the need for a water heater is filled.

Committee Forms for Dorian Recovery


I know without a doubt that everyone on all these committees has the best of intentions, but to those of us trying to figure out how a person we know is going to get help, the meeting on Sunday added to the confusion. 

For example, the Lifesaving Church is sponsoring an Adopt-a-Family program, and anyone with Dorian losses can sign up. That's considered part of the leg of the church's partnership with the OIRRT. You have to sign up separately, at the church, with yet another form, but if you get something from Adopt-a-Family, it will count as a Met Need. 

Some more things we learned:

The funds Ocracoke has is for residents only, not businesses or rental cottages. 

UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is here for longterm rebuilding of island homes. Two other organizations, Samaritan's Purse and the Baptists on a Mission, will contribute money to support UMCOR's efforts.

UMCOR only works on residences, not rental properties. If you rent your home year-round, it's not eligible for the volunteer help. However, it's possible that landlords can have their properties worked on in lieu of giving their tenants an equivalent amount of free rent. Contact the OIRRT if you have questions about that. 

The OIRRT doesn't have the resources to provide temporary or longterm year 'round housing. The workforce housing crisis is a conversation for another day/committee. (I nominate Jenny Scarborough to take that on, though I also think it should be a priority for the Hyde County Planning Office.)

Immigration status makes no difference to the OIRRT. No one needs to show any kind of documentation. The database is local. And, "the state doesn't work with ICE," said Kayla Williams, our VAL (volunteer assistance liaison) from NC Emergency Management. 

At the time of the meeting, Ocracoke had not been approved as an SBA disaster area. Ivey would not speculate about what resources might come from the state. 

The caseworkers (Desiree Ricker, Andrea Cody, and Trish Davis) are being trained by UMCOR or Catholic Charities. "Casework is already being done," Ivey said. "We've had forty cases of medical need." So far, 277 households have signed up at the JRC. That's about half of what they expect. Go. Do. Your. Paperwork.

Despite what you've heard, nobody on any of these committees is getting paid for their services. They are ALL volunteers. They also plan to be in the recovery game for the long haul -- perhaps as long as a year. 

If you have any questions, please let me know by text (252-921-0283) or email ( and I will ask and update this article. 





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