Initial emergency appeal: Hurricane Irene

August 31, 2011

A man walks away from a flooded section of Highway 23 in Wayne, New Jersey, August 30, 2011. New Jersey and Vermont continue to struggle with their worst flooding in decades. Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson courtesy

A man walks away from a flooded section of Highway 23 in Wayne, New Jersey, August 30, 2011. New Jersey and Vermont continue to struggle with their worst flooding in decades. Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson courtesy


Hurricane Irene has left extensive flood and wind damage from Puerto Rico to Maine, as well as causing at least 40 deaths; more than 4 million homes are still without power and more than 10,000 people are in FEMA shelters.

Preliminary damage assessments are just starting so there are no numbers yet available of homes destroyed and damaged.  In New England the rivers crests are just starting to recede today, but the flood damage has been extensive.  In New York state several dams are being inspected to insure their integrity.  Several towns in Vermont and North Carolina are still isolated and can only be reached by helicopter.

The rebuilding efforts in sixteen states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. are expected to take several years.  Affected are: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico.

CWS Response:

  • CWS stands ready to continue to support social service agencies and churches with CWS Clean-up Buckets, Hygiene Kits, Baby Kits, School Kits and Blankets.  CWS has had several requests for CWS Emergency Clean-up Buckets, such as from the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside, N.J., and, last week, from the Chesapeake (Maryland) American Red Cross, which also requested CWS Blankets and Health Kits.  Those shipments are either completed or underway.  The New Jersey group is receiving 200 buckets; the Maryland group is receiving 600 blankets, 600 hygiene kits and 600 clean-up buckets.

    Today, another group requested relief items: the Salvation Army of North Carolina, based in Greenville.  It has requested 510 CWS Baby Kits; 510 CWS School Kits; 2,520 CWS Health Kits and 500 CWS Emergency Clean-up Buckets.  CWS expects more requests as preliminary damage assessments are completed and as power is restored, roads are reopened and as communities can communicate their needs.

  • CWS member communions are already at work in all impacted states: clearing debris, cleaning out homes, providing food in shelters, providing shower facilities, providing supplies of all kinds and meeting the needs of survivors.
  • CWS Emergency Response Specialists are working with FEMA Volunteer Liaison Officers, State VOADs (Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster), CWS Resource Development Personnel, CWS-member churches and others.  The ERSs are assisting in getting material goods sent where most needed; providing more details about damages and needs; and will start working with communities to develop plans for the development of long term recovery committees.  These committees are essential to the rebuilding of the community, for putting families back into adequate housing, and for leading the community to a “new normal.”  The ERSs will help train the committees, assisted by specialists in working for member communions.
  • CWS will also provide small start-up grants to help the long-term recovery groups get started.  CWS Emergency Response Specialists are also receiving requests for assistance and providing advice on disaster recovery efforts.  Specialists can be reached via the contact info here.


Total is $210,000.  This includes $100,000 for long-term recovery start-up, with a minimum of 20 groups and a maximum grant of $5,000 each.  Other expenses: $80,000 for material resources and shipping; $30,000 for long-term recovery group training.


CWS thanks its member communions for the efforts to help restock our warehouses with material goods, such as CWS Clean-up Buckets, Hygiene Kits, Baby Kits and School Kits.  Many people in need will benefit from these resources.  However, the response to Hurricane Irene will rapidly deplete our supplies, especially of CWS Clean-up Buckets.

All efforts to replenish our supplies for future emergencies are as always, greatly appreciated.  Information on Clean-up Buckets is available here.


Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be made online, sent to your denomination, or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.

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