JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - JACKSON, MS (WLOX) – The next time Mississippi is hit by a hurricane or tornado, storm victims will have a new place to turn to for help recovering.
Wednesday, Gov. Haley Barbour and the nonprofit Volunteer USA Foundation announced the establishment of the National Disaster Recovery Fund to benefit states and communities who suffer long-term losses from a natural disaster. Governors from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi are supporting the work of the Fund, as a way to supplement state and local relief efforts when a disaster strikes.
The National Disaster Recovery Fund will operate specifically for the purpose of providing resources for long-term recovery – it will not take the place of immediate relief efforts already provided by existing organizations.
"Whether it's a tornado or a hurricane – and we've had a lot of experience with both – each one presents unique challenges," Gov. Barbour said. "There's a lot more flexibility in working with nonprofit organizations than going through government bureaucracies, and in many cases, these nonprofit groups are in the affected community already, so they know the people and know the situation."
Chairing the Fund is Bill Simon, president of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush serves as honorary chair.
"As a resident of Florida, I know all too well the destruction and turmoil that follows major disasters," Bush said. "The chaos on lives and communities often lasts months and even years – long after insurance, government and immediate relief resources have been exhausted. That is the principle behind the National Disaster Recovery Fund – through national fundraising efforts we will work to rebuild lives in the challenging times that lie ahead."
The National Fund will provide long-standing support by working with state leaders and contracting with trusted nonprofits in local communities. These nonprofits will determine how and where long-term recovery dollars are needed most and engage volunteer and faith-based organizations skilled in the areas of rebuilding and recovery.
Key attributes of the Fund include:
- Stretch Resources & Fill Gaps – Provide funding for long-term recovery to communities and across states when needed after immediate relief efforts have taken place. Funds will be expended where government and insurance funds don't cover the total, or where they don't help at all.
- Rebuild Lives – Funds will be used to help rebuild communities by providing needs identified by local organizations including nonprofits like childcare centers and community centers. Quality volunteer labor will be used when possible in rebuilding efforts.
- Operate with Transparency – All donations over $5,000 will be listed on our website. The Fund will be audited regularly by an independent third-party.
- Operate with Honesty – Funding will be distributed through nonprofits that the community trusts – never directly to individuals. Donations will be used to help repair things such as roofs, destroyed fishing nets, and damaged nonprofit properties.
- Provide Refunds – Funds donated to respond to a particular storm will be used to assist those impacted by a specific storm or disaster or donations will be returned to the contributor.
The National Disaster Fund advisory board will provide oversight of the Fund and managed by a professional staff experienced in long-term recovery efforts. Current members include:
- Jeb Bush, honorary chair , former Governor of Florida
- William S. Simon, chair, president, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
- Rolfe H. McCollister, Jr., president & founder, Louisiana Business, Inc.
- Jack Norris, president, Gulf Coast Business Council
To learn more or contribute to the national Disaster Recovery Fund visit http://www.nationaldisasterrecoveryfund.org/ or call (850) 562-5300. Donations to the Fund and Foundation are tax-deductible.