Madison County Resource List and next steps for mutual aid response to Coronavirus

Download the Madison County Coronavirus Resource list here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1q7E1Jx-OS_7YM36-xsVb9SflFSZ8iWa6/view?usp=sharing or view it in full at the bottom of this post

Thank you for stepping up to support your community. In this time of social isolation it is essential that we still find ways to come together to weather this storm through collective action. We have already been heartened by the willingness of our community to pull together to meet this challenge, from fire departments opening up food pantries to individuals volunteering to sew face masks for healthcare workers. Additionally within just a few days of putting out the request for volunteers, 45 of you answered that call! Thank you! So let’s get to it:

Our Food Distribution Planning is Underway—Stay Tuned…

Marshall distribution hub and delivery: We are getting all the pieces in place to begin operating a delivery system to get supplies to anyone who cannot leave their home, especially high risk individuals. We have secured an outbuilding at the Extension Office to store and distribute supplies from. We will be following a very intensive safety protocol, based on what other mutual aid groups in the area have in place, to ensure we do not spread the virus to anyone, especially high risk individuals. We will provide more detailed information soon but to give you an idea of what we are looking at here is the basic process:

Coronavirus can live on surfaces for 3 days. We have to assume any donated or purchased items could have been handled by someone who is infected. We will be purchasing items on Tuesdays and taking them to the distribution hub, items will be placed in plastic totes and allowed to sit for 3 days to decontaminate. Saturdays will be our delivery days. If you have volunteered to do a delivery this is where you come into action. We will provide more detailed instructions for you but you will be expected to follow pretty strict hygiene protocols including wearing gloves (we will provide) and disinfecting surfaces in your vehicle, and maintaining distance from the people you are delivering to. It goes without saying that if you are feeling sick in any shape or form you should not be doing deliveries.

 Have patience. In many ways we are in the calm before the storm. We don’t have requests flooding in yet, and County/State/Federal resources have yet to be stretched to their limits. But that time may well come any day and we will be calling on you to help however you can. Just because you don’t get a call from us to help right away doesn’t mean we don’t need you or value your willingness to pitch in. We do! We also do not know how any “shelter in place” or quarantine orders will affect how we operate. We will just have to cross those bridges when we get there and in the meantime we will keep trying to get people the things they need however we can.

What You Can Do Now

#1 The good news is that there are already a lot of resources available in Madison County. However, not everyone knows what’s available. So task number one is to make sure everyone has this information handy. Attached in this email is a resource list. We are asking that you take some time this week to reach out to 10, 15, 20 of your neighbors and get this information to them. You can email it to those who you know check their email and you can print out a stack and leave them in mailboxes or porches of those you don’t know (please wash your hands thoroughly before handling and handing out the paper). We feel that it is best to not knock on doors right now so as to practice good social distancing.

We also encourage you to call and check up on anyone that comes to mind who may be in need and let them know these resources are available. Even if they have everything they need, just knowing that someone is looking out for them can be a big help too. If you feel comfortable doing so we encourage you to leave your name and personal contact information on the sheets you hand out so that your neighbors have a local point of contact.

#2 This is going to be a decentralized effort. Each of our communities from Spring Creek to Shelton Laurel have resources in place that you can tap into. We encourage you to reach out to your local fire department, community center, church, etc. and find out what resources they are offering and what help they are needing, and where the gaps in services are. Report back to us what services are available so we can keep our master list of resources as accurate and up to date as possible. Also let us know where the holes in service are so we can start working with you on how to fill them. The model we are aiming to build is for folks to get organized on the neighborhood/community level and first trying to meet each others needs through what is available from local resources. In other words if you find any of your neighbors in need, see what you can do to connect them with the resources already available in your neighborhood. And absolutely reach out for help from us or other parts of the county when those needs can’t be met by your local institutions and networks. This will make for less strain on our Marshall distribution hub (more on that in a minute) as well as reduce the need for travel around the county.

#3 Keep putting pressure on local officials to stop evictions and cuts to services. Eviction proceedings have stopped statewide but orders that went through before this halt may still be getting carried out.

Call to action, please help deliver this message to local officials :

In light of the unprecedented crisis our community faces from Coronavirus and the massive economic disruption it is causing, we are calling for Madison County officials to declare a moratorium on evictions. Many of us are seeing our hours slashed, contracts canceled, fewer customers or our work flat out canceled. In light of this economic hardship many of our community members risk losing there housing as paychecks shrink and rent comes due. In this time of crisis it is inhumane and cruel to force homelessness on our friends, families and neighbors due to a threat that is out of any of our control. This isn’t just a matter of doing what is humane, evicting people from their homes will exacerbate the spread of the disease by forcing people out into public with no access to basic sanitary measures like toilets, sinks and showers.

We urge our County Commissioners to do the right thing and halt all eviction proceedings while our community weathers this storm.

Contact your County Commsioners:

boc@madisoncountync.gov

craiggoforth@madisoncountync.gov

msnelson@madisoncountync.gov

ngentry@madisoncountync.gov

wbrigman@madisoncountync.gov

mwechtel@madisoncountync.gov

– Additionally we call on French Broad Electric to follow the lead of other utility providers like Duke Energy and halt all electricity shut offs due to nonpayment of bills to prevent further hardships on households struggling to make ends meet.

French Broad EMC 828-649-2051 https://www.frenchbroademc.com/contactus.cfm

– Recognizing that running water is essential to maintain hygenic conditions and necessary for daily survival, we are calling on the owns of Hot Springs, Marshall, and Mars Hill to halt all water shutoffs.

Hot Springs Town Hall (828) 622-7591 townofhotsprings@frontier.com

Marshall: Mayor Jack Wallin mayor@townofmarshall.org

Mars Hill Town Hall: (828) 689-2301

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