August 27 update: Last night, Hurricane Laura slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm with 150 mile-per-hour winds. We are working with our local partners in Texas and Louisiana to determine our response plan. CWS Hygiene Kits and Emergency Cleanup Buckets are already on their way to Texas for the relief effort, and we anticipate focusing on long-term recovery needs as well. More information will be coming in the next week.
Before it began, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was expected to be busier than usual. So far, this dark prediction appears to be coming true. The first two named storms of the season, Arthur and Bertha, formed before the season officially began. On July 22, Tropical Storm Gonzalo was officially named, setting a record for the earliest a storm has received a “G” name (the seventh named storm usually forms around September 16). And on July 25, Hurricane Hanna made landfall in southern Texas. It brought heavy rain and flooding with it.
The coronavirus pandemic has complicated nearly every aspect of hurricane preparedness and response this year. The local organizations that CWS works with across the United States report fatigue and exhaustion among staff and volunteers alike after months of pandemic response. Social distancing and other measures will complicate both evacuation and response measures in the event of a storm. Resources are being stretched thin in the face of cascading disasters. At CWS, we are facing shortages of CWS Kits in our warehouses as a result of the pandemic and response measures that suspended group gatherings to assemble them.
Our team is committed to responding to the storms that come this hurricane season. We will continue to respond to requests for CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets, Hygiene Kits, School Kits and Blankets. We have been working alongside our local partners throughout the pandemic, including to help them prepare for hurricane season. We will support immediate and long-term recovery efforts in communities that hurricanes impact. As usual, our focus will continue to be on groups who may not be able to access other support.
How to Help
Financial support is critical in enabling us to respond immediately and effectively. Donations can be made online at cwsglobal.org/hurricanes-2020 or by mailing a check to Church World Service (P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515). Please designate it to 2020 Hurricane Response.
We also have an urgent need for CWS Kits. Learn more about assembling them at cwskits.org. If you are from a congregation that would like to learn more about this ministry or discuss how you can help, please contact Director of Congregational Giving Matthew Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org.