CWS responds to U.S. Storms, Floods, Tornadoes, Wildfires

September 30, 2013

Volunteers from the United Church of Christ, Longmont, help clean up a flooded home. This congregation ordered 400 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets for the Longmont Disaster Assistance Center. Photo: United Church of Christ, Longmont, Colo.

Volunteers from the United Church of Christ, Longmont, help clean up a flooded home. This congregation ordered 400 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets for the Longmont Disaster Assistance Center. Photo: United Church of Christ, Longmont, Colo.

Appeal # 627 Y

Initial Appeal Goal: $120,000
Revised Appeal Goal: $150,000
Received to Date: $27,000


Heavy rains Sept. 9-16 caused severe flooding in Colorado.  In most of the affected areas, rains exceeded 20 inches over several days.  As many as five dams burst or were overtopped, causing additional flooding.  The flood emergency has affected an area of more than 2,000 square miles from Estes Park to Fort Collins. The waterways that flooded include the South Platte River, the St. Vrain Creek and the Big Thompson River.

Eight people were killed and several persons are still missing. At the peak of the flood, more than 13.500 persons were evacuated from their homes.  1,882 homes were destroyed and another 5,566 homes have major damage. Throughout the affected area, numerous houses of worship and schools are closed or damaged. Over 18,000 applications have been received by FEMA for assistance.

Thirty state highway bridges have been destroyed and another 20 are seriously damaged. The town of Estes Park could be unreachable by land for as long as a year.  Several other towns will have only limited highway access until roads can be rebuilt in the spring. Serious oil spills occurred near the towns of Milliken and Platteville.  Statewide more than 1,300 oil and gas wells had to be shut down.  The extent of environmental damage is now being assessed.

Counties affected include Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Boulder, Clear Creek, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan, Pueblo, Washington and Weld. Particularly hard hit are the immigrant communities of Evans and Milliken. Many of the residents will not be eligible for federal assistance and will need to rely heavily on the faith-based aid community and other volunteer aid organizations for recovery assistance.

CWS Response:

While the initial rescue and response actions are mostly complete, affected communities now face 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.

CWS has provided material goods, including 900 CWS Emergency Clean Up Buckets, 2,000 CWS Hygiene Kits and 360 CWS Blankets.  The value of these 3,260 items is more than $72,560, with this in-kind value not counted toward the appeal’s monetary goal.  Monetary donations to this appeal will help to pay for the shipping and handling of material resources provided to the flood survivors. Organizations to which the goods have been sent are the Disaster Assistance Center in Longmont, Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Windsor and the Salvation Army Center in Denver. Additional CWS material goods will be shipped as required and requested.

As the communities become ready, CWS emergency response specialists will provide training and limited funding to newly forming long-term recovery groups. These small grants help the groups get set up, organized and working. Funds are commonly used for office equipment and supplies, telephone and internet services, transportation and personnel.

Additionally, CWS is collecting information about the other flooding events that have occurred in recent weeks in New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, west Texas and areas of the Navajo Nation.  CWS will support affected communities with CWS material goods, CWS long-term recovery group start-up grants, and long-term recovery training and consultation.

CWS emergency response specialists for this appeal are:

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

Colorado VOAD contact information: 202-656-8623

Total is $150,000. This includes:

  • $50,000 for material resources processing and shipping
  • $60,000 for emergency response long-term recovery group grants (projected eight grants of $5,000/each)
  • $40,000 for on-scene training and consultation

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. Donations may also be made online.  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.

During disaster such as this now is the time to remember that the most important humanitarian donation that an individual can make is cash. There are already reports of heaps of used clothing piling up in Colorado: clothing and other materials that do little to restore the dignity of survivors.  Remember, financial help is best. 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.

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