West LTRC says be patient while residents remain frustrated

Posted at 6:35 PM, Sep 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-05 10:03:43-04

Frustrations filled a town hall meeting Tuesday night in West as residents complained about the process of applying for Long Term Recovery money.

One resident called the meeting a dog and pony show saying nothing was accomplished. Another resident says she's frustrated with not only residents not getting money but also the process of applying. But director of the Long Term Recovery Center Karen Bernsen says they're doing all they can.

"We want to go faster for residents and it just can't," Bernsen said. "There's a whole lot to do in order to help a resident recover."

Bernsen says it's a very complicated process. Residents go through case workers and figure out unmet needs- so the money can be maximized for the best use.

"We know that what we have now is not enough to help everybody," Bernsen said. "So we'd like for the public to continue to have confidence in us that we're going to use the funds to help the residents recover, we also need a little patience."

But residents say they need money now, and going through multiple steps and avenues to get it is very frustrating. Mayor Tommy Muska compares it to something seen in DC.

"Obviously they had to learn it somewhere in Washington because it just looks like a bureaucratic nightmare and it looked like it would be a whole lot simpler, but it's not," Muska said.

While Bernsen says the process cannot be changed because of tax reasons, it could be quickened with more case workers and volunteers. Currently there are only three case workers for more than four hundred residents.

"Bodies to help get the work that needs to get done and that will help speed up the process for some of the residents."

Residents work with their case worker to get money from FEMA, SBA loans, Salvation Army and other organizations to get help before the LTRC.

Residents also brought up several more issues including Bernsen not talking at the Town Hall Meeting and residents not being treated well at the Center. Bernsen addressed those issues saying she didn't talk because the West, Texas Foundation Board said she's talked enough. Bernsen also says she apologizes if anyone has felt unwelcome at the Recovery Center. She says they're working to improve that and ask for patience from residents.