SJCPLS -- Your Hurricane Recovery Connection
When people's daily lives are disrupted, they tend to look for places of sanctuary and sense. Places in which they can feel safe and from whose vantage point they can understand the things that are happening around them. As trusted civic institutions at the heart of their community, libraries hold a unique role in supporting us through times of crisis, providing shelter, infrastructure, security, and connectivity.
When St. Johns residents recently had to flee their homes due to Hurricane Matthew, they felt disconnected and stressed. Your libraries helped alleviate some of that stress by offering a place where people could connect to services, find distractions, and take steps toward recovery. Here are just a few ways SJCPLS libraries are assisting the community during storm recovery:
- Several library staff working the phone lines at Emergency Operations Center before, during, and after Hurricane Matthew;
- Opening the Hastings and Anastasia Island libraries on Mondays as additional sites for A/C, power, facilities, and internet access;
- Forgiving fines and fees, extending due dates due to the storm;
- Collecting food and pet supplies for displaced families and animals;
- Setting up virtual office space for businesses at Main;
- Disseminating storm recovery and restoration resources via ourlibrary website,social networks,St. Johns CountyandCity of St. Augustineinformation channels;
- Assisting residents in accessing resources for insurance/FEMA/alternate accommodations;
- Assisting those who have lost jobs to file for unemployment and seek alternate employment;
- Offering free copy/fax/scan services for those needing to submit insurance claims and conduct storm-related business;
Public libraries and their staffs fill an important role in their communities, bringing a sense of humanity into their jobs. We are public servants every day, stepping up to fill the community's need. I especially want to thank our library staff for their unwavering commitment to our libraries as they worked to open our doors and serve our communities; even as many worked through their own personal challenges. Many of our staff suffered great losses with this storm but still returned to serve others within our libraries.
We realize our community has experienced a life-altering event and appreciate the shared sense of bonding among friends and family, neighbors, and strangers during this time of need. We want you to know that your library is here for you -- whether we're behind the desk or behind your phone call -- and we will continue to adapt to meet community needs throughout this time of recovery and restoration.
Library System Director, Debra Rhodes Gibson