Community Foundation to Match $250,000 of Donations to Disaster Relief Fund

February 2019

As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helps those affected by the floods in Elkhart County, local efforts continue to raise money for those impacted by this natural disaster and those in the future.

One effort includes the Community Foundation of Elkhart County’s Disaster Relief Fund, which helps Elkhart County residents in times of need. The Community Foundation’s Board of Directors agreed to match the first $250,000 of donations to the fund to continue to support local flood survivors as well as prepare for future needs. “Whatever money remains after we support current flood relief survivors will stay in the fund for future disasters in our community,” said Shannon Oakes, senior program officer at the Community Foundation.

The fund was established in 2009 by the City of Nappanee to provide future disaster relief services for residents of Elkhart County. The funding came from the excess of donations the community received following the devastation in 2007 by a tornado. Larry Thompson, then the Nappanee mayor, was proud to provide the seed money for this fund after their relief efforts were complete and to recognize the hundreds of donors who supported these efforts. The initial $40,000 doubled by February 2018 when Elkhart County was in need of flood relief efforts.

Since February, 14 volunteers representing government and non-profit entities have come together to form the Elkhart County Long Term Flood Recovery Task Force 2018. A Community Foundation grant of $100,000 and $100,000 from United Way of Elkhart County joins an additional $45,000 that is being distributed by the task force, chaired by Keith Sarber, vice president for community impact for the United Way of Elkhart County. “We know that we need much more,” he said of funding.

County residents impacted by the flooding can apply for federal assistance. Case managers from the city of Goshen and Salvation Army of Elkhart will help people navigate the process. A FEMA Disaster Recovery Center is open in Elkhart at 608 Oakland Ave.

“People can come and apply for help. We’re really encouraging them to come to the recovery center as soon as possible to start the process,” said Sarber, noting that the federal process can be complicated.

After FEMA makes a determination on how it will help a household, the local task force may provide an additional grant to help with reconstruction, furnace or water heater replacement, mold remediation and other needs. “There will be people who will need additional help,” Sarber said.

Gifts to the Disaster Relief Fund can be made online or mailed to the Community Foundation, 300 Nibco Pkwy, Ste. 301, Elkhart, IN 46516. Community Foundation staff members can also work with business or corporate entities that would like to establish a matching-gift program for employees giving to disaster relief efforts.