SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Hundreds of San Luis Obispo County residents who have suffered recent storm damage were able to receive free disaster recovery supplies over the past two days.
The supply distribution was a partnership between San Luis Obispo County and Chico-based nonprofit organization Global Empowerment Mission (GEM).
"We are a non-profit charity," said Elizabeth Jernbert, GEM Director of West Coast Operations. "We are global. We respond usually as first responders into disasters all over the world. Here at the USA West, we take care of the west coast. Our operation assists in the very beginning at Phase 1 where we introduce ourselves with necessities kits of what people need."
On Tuesday and Wednesday at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Memorial Building, workers with GEM, along with county employees, delivered boxes and bags of supplies were filled with basic household supplies.
"Inside these necessity kits we have nonperishable foods, hygiene and some disinfectant wipes and water," said Jernberg. "We also brought in cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, flushable wipes. We brought in some vitamins, some cream for foot aches."
According to the county, more than 800 people have reported some form of storm-related damage over the past few weeks, with the actual number of people that have suffered damage likely much higher.
"A lot of people right now are struggling to even have basic supplies," said Rachel Dion, San Luis Obispo County Emergency Services Coordinator. "We have seen folks who have absolutely lost everything, so this just really gives them a helping hand, give them some food, give them some basic necessities while they get back on their feet."
One of those who took advantage of the opportunity to receive the supplies was Amber Maez of Atascadero, who is still recovering from having her home damaged last month.
"On January 9th, the big storm, the roof in our apartment started leaking and it just started leaking through pretty bad through the ceiling and the drywall in my kitchen and a couple of days later, my ceiling just collapsed in my kitchen," said Maez. "They had to tear out my whole flooring, so right now I don't have my kitchen. It's been hard because I have three little ones. I have a 7-year-old, a 4-year-old and a newborn, so just the fact of having them not really being comfortable in the house and having some of our stuff damaged, it's been a little rough."
At the distribution, Maez was able to receive boxes of supplies that will help her and her family get through the difficult time.
"I am definitely grateful for the handouts and everything," said Maez. "All the people that have come out, everybody coming together and just helping everyone and anybody in need. It's just been very helpful."
For anyone who did have the opportunity to receive the free supplies, GEM said it will return back to the county in the near future to hold a similar distribution.
"If someone missed out on our giveaways, we will definitely be back within a week and a half or two weeks when we come back with more supplies," said Jernberg. "We will come back with more cleaning. We will come back with more necessity kits. We will come back with an idea of what they need and what we can get."
For more information on Global Empowerment Mission, click here.
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