Taney County Affiliate Donates $92,000 Grant for Tornado Assistance


CF of TC Board Member Mike Gailey and President Doug Jordan, left, present a donation of $92,000 to Branson Area COAD Chairman Rev. Tom Willcox, of First Presbyterian Church. Tornado survivor Wanda Durmire, center, joined others who have received assistance and COAD members for the presentation.

The Community Foundation of Taney County today presented a grant for $92,000 to the Branson Area COAD to assist the remaining individuals and families still struggling to recover from the Leap Day tornado that struck downtown Branson and sections of Taney County.

The Branson Area COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) has been the central clearinghouse for assistance with tornado recovery to avoid duplication of services. Caseworkers are still working with  individuals and families on housing, household items, counseling services and transportation needs related to their losses from the tornado.

In addition to this grant, the Community Foundation of Taney County has awarded about $39,300 in other private donations to the COAD for earlier recovery work, President Doug Jordan said.

With today’s grant, the COAD should be able to complete its recovery assistance for those individuals and families over the next several months.

Wanda Durmire spoke about how much she appreciated the assistance she’s received from the COAD. She had rebuilt her life only a couple of years earlier after her home burned down in 2010. Then, her new modular home on Mount Branson was struck by the Leap Day tornado and she lost the home and her car.

“I’m back in my own home again,” she said. “Everything is getting better.”

The funding awarded today was made possible by a grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, a private foundation based in Eden Prairie, Minn., to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and its affiliate, the Community Foundation of Taney County.

The M.A.C. Foundation, founded in 2006, includes a focus on disaster-related relief, recovery and development. Its disaster-related work includes an emphasis on low-attention disasters, like the Leap Day tornado in Branson, which did not qualify for FEMA assistance and received little national publicity after the initial emergency. The M.A.C. Foundation also supported the CFO’s Joplin Recovery Fund.

“The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation has been more than a grantmaker to us,” CFO President Brian Fogle said. “We have benefitted from its expertise in the field and resource ideas as well as its financial support. We have the highest regard for the well-rounded approach the M.A.C. Foundation takes in working with its funding partners to understand how its support can truly make a difference.”

Pastor Tom Willcox, who chairs the Branson Area COAD, said this grant award comes at a critical time because private donations have mostly dried up because many people do not realize that a number of people are still struggling with the impact of the Feb. 29 tornado. With the seasonal shifts in Branson’s economy and job market, it is important to help these individuals and families stabilize their situations with winter and the off season approaching.

Candace Adams, with the State Emergency Management Office, praised the COAD’s efforts in filling needs where other resources weren’t available.

“This will help us get through the rest of the way and that is what we are very thankful for,” she said.