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One-stop resource centers to open for St. Louis-area flood victims

Kaci Dalton, 16, helps residents fill sandbags on Starling Airport Road in Arnold. “My other house used to flood so I know how it feels,” she said. “So I’m just trying to help out.”
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Kaci Dalton, 16, helped residents fill sandbags on Starling Airport Road in Arnold on May 3. State officials will open a one-stop resource center for flood relief next Thursday.

St. Louis-area residents who are recovering from flooding can get help with cleaning up, filing insurance claims and finding counseling all in one place in the coming days.

Local, state and federal disaster specialists still are assessing the size and scope of damage throughout Missouri from the flooding and storms. Gov. Eric Greitens said Wednesday it's part of the state's application seeking a federal disaster declaration.

The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency is opening a one-stop resource center at the Manchester United Methodist Church in Manchester from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Other resource centers will be available at the Pacific Eagles in Pacific on Monday, Northwest Valley Middle School in House Springs on Tuesday and Arnold First Baptist Church in Arnold on Thursday. 

Full list of resource centers, dates and times

"In a disaster situation, people have many needs and rather than having to go all over town, try to have the services that might help them out in one location," said Mike O'Connell, communications director at the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

People can get help with cleanup and debris removal, housing assistance, replacement of food stamps lost in the flooding, mental health counseling and insurance questions. Free child care services will be available.

"So let's say it's an elderly person whose house has been flooded and they need it mucked out, get all the muck out of there, sanitize it, clean it, and they can't do it on their own," O'Connell said. "A lot of volunteer groups do this work, so the idea is to connect people who need this assistance with the volunteers and other groups that can assist."

O'Connell said the multiagency resource centers, or MARCs, are open to anyone affected by the flooding, regardless of where they live in the state, but residents must bring proof of address. They will be held at more than a dozen locations across the state.

Residents can connect with state and local health officials, the state's insurance department, the Red Cross, Salvation Army and several volunteer groups. O'Connell said there has been a "tremendous outpouring" from faith-based and volunteer groups whose work is "vital to our whole recovery framework."

"This whole MARC concept is something that's been expanding over the last few years as the volunteers who are experts in getting the services to flooding and other disaster survivors figure out what is the best way to do this and how can we ease the pain and the work that people have to do to get assistance," he said.

O'Connell also said those who cannot get to the center can also access resources by calling the United Way's 2-1-1 hotline or going to the state's portal for flooding recovery.

To seek a federal disaster declaration, the state will assess damage to homes, personal property and public infrastructure. If Missouri gets the declaration, funding may be available to help flood and storm victims with assistance such as temporary rent, home repairs and other needs.

Local officials must first gather information and then request state and federal specialists to come. St. Louis County's Office of Emergency Management said it has made a request for assessment by state and federal specialists, but doesn't have a timeline for when that will happen.

But Jefferson County's Office of Emergency Management says it's still gathering information before it makes its assessment request. Director Warren Robinson said his local teams have done a "rapid assessment on approximately 1,300 structures," similar to the number of impacted buildings from the 2015 flooding. 

Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @stephlecci