Appeal Update #3: 2013 U.S. Storms, Floods, Tornadoes and Wildfires

August 22, 2013

Appeal # 627Y
Appeal Goal: $120,000
Received to Date: $27,000


Throughout the spring and summer of 2013, numerous emergencies have affected communities throughout the United States.

Many communities have suffered the destructive impact of tornadoes. The largest were in Oklahoma, striking the Oklahoma City area over a period of several days.  Affected communities were Carney, El Reno, Moore, Norman, Oklahoma City and Shawnee. More than 1,300 homes were destroyed and dozens of lives were lost. Tornadoes from this and other storm systems also occurred in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Texas.

Severe storms also have caused flooding throughout much of the nation. Communities hardest hit include the Oklahoma City, Okla., area; San Antonio, Texas; Iowa City, Waterloo and Coralville, Iowa; Paducah, Ky.; Waynesville and West Alton, Mo.; Sioux Falls, S.D., and  Hutchison and Lindsborg, Kan.  States where significant flooding has occurred include Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

In addition, the 2013 fire season is severe. In the Black Forest section of Colorado Springs, almost 500 homes were destroyed before that fire was put out.

While some fires have been contained, dozens continue to rage across the U.S. West, including in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington.  Of most concern is the Beaver Creek Fire in Camas County, Ore. The fire has burned more than 100,000 acres, and 3,700 homes are threatened. Also of concern is the Government Flats Complex Fire in Wasco County, Ore., and the Lolo Creek Fire in Missoula County, Mont.

CWS Response:

In most states the initial rescue and response actions are complete. Now comes the difficult task of long-term recovery. CWS Emergency Response Specialists are in close contact with the many organizations involved to identify the needs of the survivors. These include state, regional and local VOADs (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster), FEMA, State Emergency Management Agencies, interfaith organizations, CWS member communions and many other agencies. As the communities are ready, CWS emergency response specialists will provide training and limited funding to newly formed long-term recovery groups.

On September 5, CWS Emergency Response Specialist Sandra Kennedy-Owes will conduct a day-long Recovery Tools and Training workshop in Oklahoma City. The workshop will be supported with experts from World Renew, Lutheran Disaster Response, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Oklahoma State VOAD, FEMA, Oklahoma State Emergency Management Office and others. Seminar topics will include Emotional and Spiritual Care, FEMA and Other Assistance, Construction Management, Volunteer Management, Needs Assessment, and Disaster Case Management, and leaders will respond to the questions of those who attend.

In late September, similar training will be conducted for flood-impacted communities near Chicago and Bloomington, Ill. Discussions are under way exploring additional Recovery Tools and Training seminars in Colorado, Kansas and Kentucky.

CWS has also provided CWS Long-Term Recovery Group Startup and Sustainment Grants to long-term recovery groups in affected communities. These small grants help the LTRGs get set up, organized and working. Funds are commonly used for office equipment and supplies, telephone and internet services, transportation and personnel.

Grants under this appeal have been approved for Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Iowa, and New York. More grants are being requested and will be approved as funds permit.

CWS also responds to requests for CWS material goods during the earlier stages of disasters. Goods provided under this appeal include 2,977 CWS Emergency Clean Up Buckets, 380 CWS Hygiene Kits, 1,940 CWS Blankets, 510 CWS Baby Care Kits, and 1,940 CWS School Kits. The value of these 10,527 items is over $350,000. Communities receiving CWS material goods are in Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.

Additionally, CWS continues to collect information about the many storms, tornadoes, fires and floods that have occurred in recent weeks. CWS will support affected communities with CWS Kits and Blankets, Long-Term Recovery Group Startup and Sustainment Grants, and long-term recovery training and consultation.

CWS emergency response specialists for this appeal are:

Sandra Kennedy-Owes  251-725-4262 (Alabama)
Susanne Gilmore 785-477-7823 (Kansas)
Ku’ulei Funn  808-226-6432 (Hawaii)
Joann Hale or, 917-705-3038 (New York).


Total is $120,000. This includes:

  • $40,000 for material resources processing and shipping
  • $40,000 for emergency response long-term recovery group grants (projected eight grants of $5,000/each)
  • $40,000 for on-scene training and consultatio

How to Help

Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be sent to your denomination/communion or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. (REF: 2013 Tornadoes, Appeal #627-Y.) Donations may also be made online.

CONCERNING CWS MATERIAL GOODS:  Thanks to the great efforts of CWS communions, CWS has been able to help meet the needs of the survivors of recent disasters. In recent months the demands have been great in the United States and across the globe and CWS warehouse stocks are rapidly being depleted. The most immediate need is for CWS Baby Care Kits and CWS Emergency Clean-Up Buckets. CWS also has continuing demand for its other material goods, including CWS  Blankets, CWS Hygiene Kits and CWS School Kits. Generous support to restock the warehouses will help CWS respond to current and future needs of disaster survivors.  Learn more.

If you have other supplies that you believe may be of help, contact a CWS emergency response specialist to see whether the materials can be used and, if so, where.

CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.