Leveraging LAP-AID: A History and Overview

April 14, 2020 | United Way Team

When disaster strikes, LAP-AID comes to help. Learn more about this community collaboration and its beginnings in East Central Iowa.

When our community faces disaster, we discover what can be accomplished if we stand together. From floods to tornadoes, Linn Area Partners Active in Disaster (LAP-AID) plays a key role in connecting people to the resources they need, as well as helping with long-term recovery. And United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI) plays key roles in many aspects of this collaboration.

LAP-AID is a coalition of organizations who work to minimize the impact ofLAP-AID-Logo_4C_Web emergencies and disasters, with a goal to expedite response and provide resources for long-term recovery. More than 45 different organizations and 13 teams contribute to LAP-AID. To put it simply, they work to build a better-prepared, more resilient community.

Originally called The Linn Area Long Term Recovery Coalition (LALTRC), LAP-AID formed as a response to the 2008 flood. Because of connections to many area nonprofits, UWECI was asked to help form the group. Leslie Wright, UWECI Senior Vice President of Community Building, remembers receiving this news.

“We [United Way] needed a long-term recovery committee to help funnel resources to vulnerable populations,” Wright said. “A lot of organizations weren’t sure what that looked like at the time, but we received help to form a committee, and have been working together since then.”

As part of flood response, more than 70 organizations brought approximately $20.5 million in services and resources to Linn County. Following 2008, LAP-AID coordinated over 630 construction jobs, organized more than 664,000 hours of volunteer time, and helped 1,400 households receive over $3.5 million in unmet needs grants.

UWECI provides leadership on several teams that make up LAP-AID, including serving as officers and chairing various teams. The organization has a team for a variety of services, including food, shelter, transit, public health, mental health, childcare, and personal finance and legal assistance. Some of the teams—including Volunteer Center, Communications, and Child Care—are led by UWECI staff. The work of each team, Wright says, are instrumental to LAP-AID’s success.

“A lot of people and groups who were involved in 2008 are the same people who are involved now,” Wright noted.

During emergencies, the Linn County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) activates LAP-AID into action. Since their activation in March, LAP-AID has been coordinating efforts to respond to COVID-19. Wright says after some initial discussions, their response has been evolving as the pandemic continues.

“We’ve been involved with flash floods, helped during the H1N1 outbreak, and we’re using our partnerships to help direct our response as we go along during this event as well.”

Stay tuned for future blogs where we’ll explore some of LAP-AID’s different teams and how their work is helping our community during COVID-19.