Emergency Appeal: U.S. Spring Storms 2014 – Update #1

May 13, 2014

Tornado damage in the residential neighborhood of Plantation Drive in Mayflower, Arkansas, which was struck by an EF-4 tornado on April 27. Photo: Christopher Mardorf/FEMA

Tornado damage in the residential neighborhood of Plantation Drive in Mayflower, Arkansas, which was struck by an EF-4 tornado on April 27. Photo: Christopher Mardorf/FEMA

Emergency Appeal #628-A, Update #1
Initial CWS Appeal Goal: $60,000


Spring storms that began April 26 and continued through May 1 took lives, injured many and caused extensive tornado, straight-line wind and flood damage to several thousand homes in more than 20 states.

To date, CWS has filled material goods orders from Jefferson County, Ala., and Baxter Springs, Kan., and expects to process at least three more material shipments.   CWS will then offer its long-term recovery expertise to affected communities.

National and regional entities and local congregations of CWS member communions are already active in all affected states.  They are clearing debris and mucking out homes.  They are providing food in shelters, emergency grants, emotional and spiritual care, volunteer management and supplies of various kinds to meet survivors’ needs.  And they are developing their plans for repair and rebuild activities and other long-term support to affected communities.

Situation Details State by State

In Alabama, there were 4 confirmed fatalities and 16 injuries when as many as 24 tornadoes struck the state. In Etowah County, 100 to 150 homes were destroyed or seriously damaged by tornadoes. An EF-3 tornado in Limestone County near Sardis destroyed 169 homes and caused major damage to another 102 homes. Many of the families lived in mobile homes or apartments.  Additionally more than 100 homes in the Mobile area were affected by flooding when 6 inches of rain fell on May 4.

In Mississippi, 23 countries were affected by tornadoes that destroyed more than 1,200 homes and severely damaged more than 1,250 more across the state. There were 14 fatalities throughout the state. In Winston County, 355 houses were destroyed and 116 were severely damaged. In Lee County, 90 homes were destroyed and 173 suffered major damage. In Rankin County, 54 homes were destroyed. In early April 61 homes were destroyed by a tornado in Covington County.

Severe flooding occurred in the Pensacola area of Florida when as much as 20 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period. 40 homes were severely flooded. Two fatalities were reported.

In hard-hit Arkansas there were 15 fatalities and 153 persons were hospitalized. Faulkner County was severely affected with 264 homes destroyed while another 80 received major damage. Very hard hit were the towns of Mayflower and Vilonia, with 50 homes destroyed in each. In Mayflower the middle school was also destroyed.

Tornadoes in Oklahoma killed two and injured five. At least 52 homes were affected. The town of Quapaw near Ottawa (in northeastern Oklahoma) was the hardest hit. The nearby Quapaw Tribe lost 7 homes and had another 15 sustain major damage. Also, as many six major wildfires were burning in the state. Near Guthrie, over 4,000 acres were burned and several dozen houses were damaged.

In North Carolina, tornadoes ranging from EF-1 to EF-3 hit the state. Counties struck included Chowan, Perquimans, Pitt, Halifax and Pasquotank. In extremely hard-hit Beaufort County there were 16 injuries and more than 200 homes damaged. Earlier in April, tornadoes struck the communities of Gum Neck and Belhaven, injuring 13 people and damaging more than 20 homes.

In Missouri 100 homes were damaged in University City near St. Louis. May storms also brought flooding to the southeast corner of the state in New Madrid, Campbell and Dunklin counties. Forty-nine homes suffered major flood damage.

In Kansas there was tornado damage in Cherokee, Bourbon and Linn counties. Extremely hard-hit was the town of Baxter Springs (population 4,162) in Cherokee County (southwest Kansas). Thirty-four persons were injured, nine hospitalized. Ninety-one homes were destroyed and another 23 homes suffered major damage.

In Texas tornadoes affected several communities to include Princeton in Collin County and Merit in Hunt County. Four persons were injured. In north Texas five persons were injured by a tornado that struck in Greenville.

In Illinois an EF-1 tornado struck near Carmi. Additionally flash flooding was reported near Harrisburg.

In Indiana, portions of Interstate 64 were closed by floods resulting from over 5 inches of rain in the Evansville area.

In Iowa, tornadoes and straight line winds impacted Keokuk, Mahaska, Wapello and Monroe counties. There were two fatalities and two injuries. Flooding was also reported in Johnson County.

In Georgia, tornado impacted Troup and Heard counties. There was one fatality in the state.

In Tennessee tornadoes hit five counties. There were two fatalities and six injuries.  Forty-six homes were destroyed and another 21 homes had major damage. The heaviest damage was in Lincoln County.

The confirmed death toll from the mudslide near Oso, Wash., is now 41, with two persons still unaccounted for. 37 structures were destroyed and another 6 were heavily damaged.

The Etiwanda wildfire in drought-stricken California has burned more than 1,600 acres. Two firefighters were injured.

Flood, straight-line wind and tornado damage has also been reported in Maryland, Louisiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Nebraska and Pennsylvania. Earlier in the spring, several homes were destroyed and more than 70 homes damaged from flooding in West Seneca, N.Y.

Recent tornado activity on May 8 and 9 has caused damage in the southern Plains, the Upper Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes. Over 28,000 customers were without power.

On May 10 a tornado hit the small town of Orrick (population 800) in north central Missouri. Preliminary reports indicate many homes and commercial buildings in the community were damaged.

According to preliminary reports from Clay County, Neb., some homes and buildings were damaged in the towns of Sutton (pop. 1,500), Cordova (pop. 137), Hastings (pop. 25,000) and Beaver Crossing (pop. 403) on May 11.

CWS Response

CWS disaster response specialists are gathering information as it becomes available and making contact with members and partners in affected states, including FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons, State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters and faith-based organizations.

In support of survivors’ early needs, the agency is offering local partners and churches CWS material resources assembled and contributed by its member communions and their congregations nationwide. These include CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets, Hygiene Kits, Baby Care Kits and School Kits, along with CWS Blankets.

CWS has shipped 500 CWS Hygiene Kits and 252 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets to the Jefferson County VOAD in Alabama to support community needs in the Birmingham area. Another 75 CWS Cleanup Buckets have been shipped to the First Baptist Church in Baxter Springs, Kan., to support community needs there.  The material resources are valued at $23,200 with processing and shipping costs estimated at $4,000.

At this point CWS expects to process a total of five material shipments, with the processing and freight costs estimated at $20,000.  Then CWS will offer its long-term recovery expertise to affected communities, budgeted initially at $40,000.

CWS Members and Partners Response

The United Methodist Committee on Relief has provided communities with Emergency Grants, and has sent out Emergency Response Teams for assessment and planning with communities and to provide Emotional and Spiritual Care.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is working with communities to provide volunteer management. PDA’s National Response Teams are working to develop plans for their long-term support to impacted communities.

Lutheran Disaster Response is also working with affected communities to develop rebuilding and recovery plans. Lutherans are also actively supporting storm survivors with immediate cleanup and relief activities.

Week of Compassion of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has provided numerous communities with Solidarity Grants to support their immediate relief and recovery needs.

United Church of Christ conference coordinators have visited affected communities in several states to develop plans for long-term repair and rebuild activities.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is working with affected communities to develop plans for future home repair and rebuild activities. Brethren Children’s Disaster Services also deployed volunteers to the mudslide in Oso, Wash.

World Renew is visiting affected communities to assess immediate needs and to develop long-term rebuild plans.

International Orthodox Christian Charities is reaching out to affected communities to determine immediate needs for relief and response.

American Baptist Churches USA is assessing impacted communities to determine future rebuild activities.

Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers continue to assist communities with cleanup activities. MDS is also working with communities to determine what additional responses are needed in the short and long term.

How to Help

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

CWS thanks its member communions for the efforts to help restock its warehouses with CWS Cleanup Buckets, Hygiene Kits, Baby Care Kits and School Kits.  Many people in need will benefit from these resources. All efforts to replenish our supplies for future emergencies are as always, greatly appreciated. CWS Baby Care Kits and School Kits are in shortest supply right now.  Find more information on the CWS Kits program here.

During disasters such as this, now is the time to remember that the most important humanitarian donation that an individual can make is cash. Used clothing and other materials do little to restore the dignity of survivors.

CWS 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 CWS is responding please visit www.cwsglobal.org or call the CWS Hotline, (800) 297-1516.

The CWS emergency response specialists for this appeal are:

Sandra Kennedy-Owes, skowes@cwsglobal.org,  (251) 725-4262 (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia)
Susanne Gilmore, sgilmore@cwsglobal.org, (785) 477-7823 (Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky)
Joann Hale, jhale@cwsglobal.org, (917) 705-3038 (North Carolina, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania)
Kuulei Funn, kfunn@cwsglobal.org, (808) 226-6432 (Washington, California)

CWS Development and Humanitarian Assistance Program/CWS New York office: (212) 870-3151