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Flooding Helps Triple Disaster Relief Fund Awards in 2016

by on March 8, 2017
The worst flooding in West Virginia in more than a century during 2016 claimed at least 25 lives, damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and left thousands of residents unsure if or when they would be able to return to their homes.

(Story by Barry Schumann)

Louisiana and West Virginia flooding and several house fires made 2016 a very busy year for the AEP Emergency Disaster Relief Fund (EDRF), which is funded by employees via payroll deductions.

In all, 34 grants totaling $87,808 were made to active or retired AEP employees in 2016.  Both numbers were more than triple 2015 figures. The grants brought to nearly $260,000 the total awarded to employees in moments of need since 2010.

The AEP EDRF was created in 2002 with a contribution from AEP to help employees in time of demonstrated financial need. The fund provides an ongoing mechanism for employees to contribute to the needs of fellow active and retired employees when personal disaster or crisis strikes.

Regular contributions to the fund come primarily from employees who donate via regular payroll deduction. At the end of 2016, nearly 500 employees were making contributions via payroll.

For information on downloading an application for assistance, visit https://aepretirees.com/other-retiree-sites/.

Situations addressed by the fund in 2016 were almost equally divided between natural disasters, including the widespread West Virginia flooding in June and Louisiana flooding in August, and personal tragedies including house fires, medical illness or injury, and accidents, according to The Salvation Army in Columbus, which administers the fund. One grant was awarded in a case of the death of an immediate family member. Four applications were declined because they did not meet fund guidelines.

The fund awards up to $3,000 per grant. The average grant was $2,582 in 2016. Over the past five years, the average annual grant total was $40,600 with a low of $14,691 in 2013 and a high of $87,808 last year.

Grant recipients may request anonymity, but are asked to share feedback through satisfaction surveys. More than 70 percent said they learned about the relief fund from a co-worker or supervisor, and 20 percent heard about the fund through Human Resources or AEP Now.

Following were among quotes shared with The Salvation Army:

  • “The program was such a blessing to my family and I during the flood. Application was straight forward. Response and assistance were very timely.”
  • “The person who handled my request was amazing.  When she called me it was such an indescribable feeling that came over me. My own personal angel. She was awesome.”
  • “I am truly grateful for the assistance provided during this time of struggle for my family. Thank you … for your generous gift.”
  • “With the loss of our house (and) everything inside, this relief assistance (helped) in getting clothing and school supplies to keep my children and granddaughter from missing a beat with their schooling while the wife and I worked to get other stuff situated. Thanks.
  • “It was expedient and without tons of red tape to fill out. Thank you so much. I am very grateful.”

 

Special Disaster Relief Fund in 2016

The AEP EDRF also from time to time initiates special campaigns to provide relief for major disasters domestically or around the world. Donations from employees during these special collections may be matched by the American Electric Power Foundation. Special relief funds are typically directed to the American Red Cross, UNICEF, The Salvation Army, or other non-profit relief providers to provide needed assistance in impacted areas.

Employees in 2016 donated $57,252 for relief efforts surrounding West Virginia flooding and $10,740 for Louisiana flood relief efforts. Employee donations were matched by the AEP Foundation, resulting in a total of $128,732 to address flood relief efforts. Funds were distributed to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army in both regions. Since inception, AEP and the AEP Foundation have matched more than $578,000 in special relief effort donations.

From → News From AEP

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