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Donation money finally going to blast victims


After nearly half a year, the process of distributing money to West residents is moving forward. 

The Long Term Recovery Center announced Thursday they will start meeting with case workers next week to distribute money. There's currently 20 cases ready to be heard by a 15 person committee to decide how much money families get. However, that's of more than 500 cases opened by residents to get part of the $3.7 million available.

"This has been coming for a while but there's been a lot of things to get in order and it feels really good that we're at this point," LTRC director Karen Bernsen said.

The LTRC also explained the process to apply for the money. Residents meet up with a case worker and they establish the person's unmet needs. Then the case worker goes to a committee and describes the situation. Finally the committee will decide, without knowing who the resident is, how much money to get to that case.

However, many residents are frustrated with how long it takes to establish their unmet needs.

"I don't know when I'm going to be completely through the process like anybody else in West," West resident Crystal Ledane said.

Ledane says it's a little strange only 20 cases are ready to be heard. She says many people are frustrated with the whole process. They just want money to be able to rebuild.

"We're not going to be able to rebuild if we don't have the funds to do so," Ledane said. "People need to rebuild, I don't know if you've driven on the north side of town but it's kind of looks like a zombie apocalypse."

Others say with how long it's taking, many people are resorting to thinking they'll never get any money. Some say they're not even going to go to the Recovery Center anymore.

"If they don't help us then we'll do it ourselves. We'll go out and make loans, we will go out and find need to fix our homes back," West resident Carol Ann Kocin said.

Bernsen says they would like to think everyone would seek help, and she encourages everyone who hasn't to meet up with a case worker. That's because if you haven't after October 31, you cannot get any money.

According to the Associated Press Mayor Tommy Muska says he's heard complaints from residents about the slow pace of distribution but says legal and logistical hurdles had to be overcome until and after the center received tax-exempt status.

He also says federal regulations required families filing for help exhaust FEMA and other resources before getting they become eligible for donation money from the center.

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