Federal money to hire unemployed for storm, flood cleanup
June 17, 2011 at 5:10 PM CDT - Updated June 24 at 10:29 AM
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -
After months of storms and floods in southeast Missouri, there's a silver lining to report. Hundreds of people can get back to work, helping with the cleanup.
"It's going to be a shot in the arm for the economy," said Workforce Investment Board President June O'Dell of the Missouri Disaster Recovery Jobs Program.
O'Dell's agency is responsible for hiring, training, and paying eligible workers. She says first in line will be those employees flooded out of work by rising rivers.
"Then we will go to the dislocated workers. And then, we will also work with the long term unemployed," she added.
As O'Dell lines out the workers, Scott Sattler lines up the work.
"This grant is available to any public entity which would be a city, a county, a village, a municipality, and also non-profit organizations that do humanitarian-type aid," Sattler explained.
"Right now, we don't really know how many individuals will be needed throughout the 13 counties. We anticipate a couple of hundred," O'Dell added.
Along with Cape Girardeau, the program will also be run out of Missouri Career Center offices in Poplar Bluff, Kennett, Caruthersville, and Sikeston.
Sattler recently met with leaders in Scott County, who say they need $100,000 worth of crews and equipment.
"You think about a county that has hundreds of miles of roads. And that debris is just lying on the sides of the roads, so, trying to clean that up," Sattler explains of the work. "Also with flooding, you have potholes and things that have developed in the streets."
Salaries will be based on each work site, and workers will be trained and outfitted with any special gear they might need.
Sattler already has 15 projects underway, and says the federal dollars will keep coming in, as that list continues to grow.
"Probably right now we've, with the 15 projects, about a half million (dollars). But, that will grow as we get more communities on board," he said.
For more information on applying for available jobs and how public entities can participate, head to www.job4you.org.
Numerous communities are already looking forward to this help. Morehouse Mayor Pete Leija is requesting tools like a small backhoe, a wood chipper, and shovels, but the thing he says he needs most is manpower.
"In a small community, I have like 4 employees that are able to do most of the work," said Leija.
Leija says the flooding obviously caused problems for a lot of individuals, but he says he also has to worry about fixing things for the City of Morehouse. One example of an area needed to be cleaned...roadside ditches.
"They're full of debris, railroad ties, old tires, all kinds of things," said Leija. "And it's going to take quite some time, and quite some doing to get all that debris out of there."
Leija says while other agencies have been helpful, he is hopeful for this new program.
"There's a lot of ways that this program can really help us," said Leija.
Tim Russell is the CEO of Hope International, a program that helps get people back on their feet after a disaster.
Russell says he too is excited for the working program.
"It helps us continue the work that's already been started," said Russell.
Work like what he calls 'brightening up the community.' He says in Morehouse they plan to work on a park, and try to bring in retailers to the town. He says it's something that can be done without these employees, but says it can be more efficient with them.
"It would be really a great tool, because it helps us be more effective," said Russell "Long term steady employment instead of just relying on volunteers."
Leija also says the fact that these workers will be paid and treated as an employee with a job, will be beneficial to the workers, and the groups getting the help.
"You know you don't want to upset a volunteer," said Leija. "They're there to help you, and you appreciate anything you can get out of it. But if you've got a paid staff, paid employees, you can say hey this is what we want, and this is how we want it."
Leija says he's already got a plan in action if and when the workers come. What does he hope to accomplish?
"It just depends on how long I'm going to be able to keep them," said Leija.