close
close

TEAM Leon recipient selected, working group presents final report

The full $1 million has been disbursed to a total of 472 recipients. TEAM Leon plans to present a final report to the County Commission at Tuesday's meeting.

The Targeted Emergency Assistance Microgrant used money from the county's disaster fund to assist individuals and businesses in the unincorporated parts of the county following the May 10 tornadoes. One of the recipients was Bagigio's, a restaurant in the Woodville area.

Deputy District Administrator Shington Lamy served as team leader and, along with others involved in TEAM Leon, prepared a final update that includes background information, analysis of the program, and information on ongoing community support.

“We were able to get help quickly to where it was needed most,” Lamy said in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat.

Lamy, County Administrator Vince Long and Public Information and Communications Manager Kianna Gilley sat down with the Tallahassee Democrat to take a closer look at the report, share lessons learned and share their thoughts on what the future holds for the capital county.

The TEAM Leon program was put together in 9 days

Since the program started on May 23, the district has received over 2,100 applications for support.

Lamy said the county is well versed in emergency programs and relief efforts, and TEAM Leon's quick response was due in part to experience gained during the pandemic.

“Thanks to the same platform we used during our relief and rental assistance program during COVID, we were able to get the program up and running quickly,” Lamy said. “The other great thing about it is that a lot of people were familiar with the platform.”

He mentioned that there were many lessons learned from the COVID period that they incorporated into this program, the most important of which was making sure the application centers were ready to go when applications went online.

In Leon County, there were three centers for the public needing assistance with the application process. They were located at the Eastside Branch Library, the Fort Braden Community Center, and the Woodville Branch Library.

Lamy admitted that for many residents, these one-on-one meetings meant being able to talk to someone about the trauma they had experienced. This meant that many became emotional throughout the application process as they talked about their losses and the many questions for the future.

“These are our neighbors”

That feeling carried over to the TEAM Leon staff because, as Lamy put it, “We are not FEMA, we are not the state, we are actually county residents.”

“I think it has instilled a certain level of determination in us to provide help and resources to our community,” Lamy continued.

Long said he could sense that it meant a lot to county employees because of their willingness to help.

“Many times we'd bring in a building official who had other duties during the event, or a finance official who was pulled in 1,000 different directions,” Long said. “It wasn't just some reaction … you really see people here who obviously care about what they're doing.”

Further recovery ahead of hurricane season

Long acknowledged that the road to recovery is not over yet. The report, which will be presented to county commissioners, includes a list of additional resources activated through the county and other programs.

These include the county's State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) Disaster Recovery Program and the American Red Cross.

The county applied for and received a waiver from the state that allows for the immediate use of approximately $600,000 of the county's SHIP funds.

The American Red Cross has also launched its Accelerated Assistance program to help people in the city limits and unincorporated areas. The Red Cross has begun setting up stations at the Fort Braden Community Center and the Woodville Community Center to help people apply.

“We're going to continue to work and meet unmet needs … try to really continue to close that gap because we know some people are more affected than others,” Long said.

As the recovery continues, the county now looks ahead to hurricane season. On March 31, the city and county held a joint press conference to remind residents to prepare.

“We're in the middle of planning our disaster resilience citizen engagement series to make sure people are aware of being prepared at all times,” Gilley said. “Make sure you have your disaster bucket ready, make sure you have your supplies … those are all things we just want to make sure people are prepared for.”

Arianna Otero is City Solutions Reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat. Reach her via email at AOtero@tallahassee.com or via Twitter/X: @ari_v_otero.

Anna Harden

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *