September 16 update: Hurricane Sally made landfall in Alabama last night, bringing two feet of rain to some areas. We are working with our local partners to determine our response plan. We will respond to requests for CWS Kits, Emergency Cleanup Buckets and Blankets, and we anticipate focusing on long-term recovery needs as well. More information will be posted in the coming days.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is an active one; the first two named storms formed before the season had officially begun. On July 25, Hurricane Hanna made landfall in southern Texas. Just over a month later, Hurricane Laura slammed into Louisiana as a category 4 storm. As CNN reports, its 150 mph winds made Laura “the strongest hurricane to strike the state since 1856.”
As of August 31, organizations on the ground in affected parts of Louisiana and Texas are still completing initial assessments and getting a clear picture of the needs in the wake of Hurricane Laura. Roughly 8,000 people are still in evacuation shelters.
The coronavirus pandemic has complicated nearly every aspect of hurricane preparedness and response this year. Staff and volunteers alike are exhausted. Without protective equipment and social distancing, evacuation shelters could become hotspots for COVID-19. 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. For example, we have shipped out nearly 3,000 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets in response to Hurricane Laura–and now have fewer than 4,500 in stock.
As always, the CWS response will have two main components: responding to requests for supplies in the immediate aftermath of the storm, and long-term recovery.
We have already shipped more than 1,900 Emergency Cleanup Buckets and 1,900 Hygiene Kits to organizations in affected areas following Hurricane Laura. We are working with local partners to identify medium-term and long-term needs for especially vulnerable groups such as families without documentation or newly-arrived refugees.
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, particularly CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets. 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.