CWS Appeal: Early 2013 Storms, Floods and Tornadoes (US)

March 27, 2013

Appeal # 627 X
Appeal goal: $25,000


As harsh weather swept across large areas of the United States during the first several months of 2013, it inflicted particularly severe damage on several scattered U.S. communities.

In late January (29-30), multiple tornadoes caused significant damage when they struck six counties in Georgia. Hardest hit were Bartow and Gordon counties, where 61 homes were destroyed and another 127 sustained major damage. There was one fatality and 23 individuals were injured in Georgia. The same storm system caused significant damage in Tennessee, killing one person and injuring several others.

In February (10-11), another severe storm system generated high winds, tornadoes and flash flooding in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.  Five Mississippi counties were severely impacted: Forrest, Lamar, Marion, Wayne and Jefferson Davis. Hattiesburg and Petal were the communities hardest hit, by an EF-4 tornado. There were no fatalities, but more than 100 persons were injured. Statewide in Mississippi, 186 homes were destroyed and another 384 sustained significant damage. Over 2,500 families have applied for assistance.

In March (18), two EF-2 and one EF-1 tornadoes hit central Alabama. Nineteen counties suffered damage, with the greatest devastation occurred in the city of Sardis in Etowah County. Statewide, 79 homes were destroyed and 140 suffered major damage. The Talladega Airport was also damaged, as was some student housing at Jacksonville State University. Seventeen persons were injured; all have been treated and released.

CWS response:

While most of the response will be handled by the affected communities and states, CWS-member communions and partners and other volunteer organizations will be providing significant long-term recovery assistance.

CWS emergency response specialists are working with state, regional and local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, known as VOADs, and with FEMA, CWS member communions and other agencies to determine where CWS and its communions can help and are needed.

CWS Emergency Response Specialist Sandra Kennedy-Owes is in close contact with long- term recovery committees in the affected areas.  She already has offered long-term recovery trainings in Georgia and Tennessee and will soon offer the training in Mississippi and elsewhere with the support of CWS communions and partners.  Many individuals from the affected communities have already participated in CWS webinars.  CWS will support newly forming long-term recovery committees with start-up recovery grants as needed.

CWS has provided 500 CWS Hygiene Kits and 500 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets to the Salvation Army in Hattiesburg, Miss., for distribution to storm survivors. These CWS material goods are valued at $33,400.  The shipping and handling costs for these goods are estimated at $4,000.

CWS emergency response specialists are also helping potential donors and volunteers learn where to best offer their services and resources.

The lead CWS emergency response specialist for this appeal is Sandra Kennedy-Owes  251-725-4262 (Alabama)

In response to other weather related events, CWS emergency response specialists are in consultation with local contacts regarding wildfires in Colorado and Florida. CWS is also monitoring the impact of the extreme winter weather events that swept across much of the nation in March.

The other CWS emergency response specialists who can be contacted to provide information are:

Susanne Gilmore  785-477-7823 (Kansas)
Ku’ulei Funn  808-226-6432 (Hawaii)
Joann Hale or, 917-705-3038 (New York).


Total is $25,000. This includes:

  • $4,000 for material resources processing and shipping
  • $15,000 for emergency response long-term recovery group grants (projected three grants of $5,000/each)
  • $6,000 for on-scene training and consultation

How to help:

Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts around the world may be made online, sent to your denomination, or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. (REF: EARLY 2013 STORMS, FLOODS and TORNADOES APPEAL {U.S.} # 627-X.)

Concerning CWS emergency cleanup buckets, blankets and kits:

Thanks to the great efforts of CWS communions, CWS has made progress restocking its warehouse, but more materials are needed to be ready for future emergencies. Needed to restock CWS warehouses are CWS Blankets, Emergency Cleanup Buckets, Hygiene Kits, Baby Kits and School Kits. Information on various kits that can be compiled and donated to CWS can be found here.

Concerning volunteer deployment:

Volunteers are best utilized when part of an organized effort. The best course of action is to affiliate with a church or other responding agency. Volunteer time and talents will then be well used in planned and organized activities. There is a lot of work to be done and groups will be needed for repair and rebuilding activities for several years.

During a disaster it is important to remember that the most important immediate humanitarian donation that an individual can make is cash.  If you do have supplies that may be of help, contact a CWS Emergency Response Specialist to see if the materials can be used and where.

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

For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding please visit or call the CWS Hotline, 800-297-1516.

CWS Development and Humanitarian Assistance Program/CWS New York office: 212-870-3151
Program Director: Donna Derr at
Associate Director for Domestic Disaster Response: Barry Shade at