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Borderland relief and recovery efforts now more of a challenge

By: Gina Benitez

 EL PASO, Texas-It's been around three weeks since storms pummeled parts of the borderland and left destruction behind.

Recovery and relief efforts are still under way, but now, things aren't as simple because instead of immediate response, people need permanent solutions.

"Now, it's a little bit longer term, more complicated than the immediate relief," said Mark Matthys, executive director of American Red Cross El Paso.

When storms pummeled through our area just weeks ago, there was a lot of immediate need and a lot of immediate help.

Now, that help is coming dressed a little differently.

"It's a partnership effort and a collaborative effort and there's a lot of coordination that goes on so we're just one part of many in that recovery," Matthys said.

Around six area organizations have come together to make up what they call a long-term recovery committee.

"The long-term recovery committee is composed of agencies like The Red Cross, Salvation Army, The Housing Authority, with Goodwill, and with Project Bravo," Matthys said.

And their goals, are simple.

"To not duplicate benefits, let people get what they need but that we're not really chasing each other over the same clients," Matthys said.

They've already started executing parts of their plan.

"The best approach we're using now with all the items that the public has donated is to turn that into vouchers like what we have with Goodwill. Families can go and shop for items that really suit their needs and their tastes," Matthys said.

And are prioritizing families based on who needs it most.

"If they need housing, make sure that they get in that application process for housing. If they need furniture, or clothing, then those are some of the things that may have to wait," Matthys said.

But they ask everyone to be patient.

"Because it's going to take a while. It's going to take several weeks if not several months to get to the end of this process," Matthys said.

The long-term recovery committee meets again Tuesday and hopes to have more answers then.




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