In the aftermath of spring tornadoes and summer fires in 1998, Seminole Countyís faith based, volunteer and government organization leaders came together to create the non-profit organization Seminole HEART. The groupís mission is to strengthen County-wide disaster coordination and recovery capabilities by providing essential resources for long term recovery.
Seminole HEARTís accomplishments can be seen throughout the County. Under the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program, Seminole County Board of County Commissioners awarded replacement housing assistance to volunteer organizations for uninsured low income households. Seminole County Building and Planning Department worked with citizens to have building permit and tipping fees waved.
Mennonite Disaster Services (MDS) provided the labor, including over 930 volunteers from across the United States and Germany. Seminole HEART participants provided case-management, addressed survivor unmet needs, and supported MDS in their rebuild efforts. This included providing food, lodging, and building materials. Ten concrete block homes were constructed by MDS at an average cost of $38,000 ($70,000 average appraised value). The new homes were built to current codes to provide protection from the threat of hurricanes and tornadoes.
Seminole County saw one of the busiest hurricane seasons in its history during 2004. Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne hit the County within weeks of each other. Many people lost homes and personal belongings. HEART provided roofing services and supported evacuees.
That following year, in 2005 the most costly hurricane to hit the United States slammed into the Gulf Coast causing $108 billion dollars in damage. Victims of Hurricane Katrina came into Central Florida looking for refuge. Seminole HEART worked closely with FEMA and other support organizations to support these evacuees.
In 2008, Tropical Storm Fay caused major flooding to Seminole County. As a result, Seminole HEART was designated as the case management and long-term recovery organization to provide services to victims of the storm. They provided support to 250 victims in the aftermath to the storm.
Seminole HEART is a model for the Long Term Recovery Committee and Community Organizations Assisting During Disasters (COAD) nationwide. They play a vital role in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery efforts for the County. It is through their efforts that the community can begin the return to normalcy after devastating losses.
Heart - Seminole County - Public Safety Building, 150 Eslinger Way, Sanford, FL 32773