Hurricane Isaac’s drenching rains in late August caused extensive flooding in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, with Louisiana being the hardest-hit of the four states. In its wake the slow-moving storm took eight lives and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage.
Power has now been restored to the more than 1 million homes where it was lost in the midst of the hurricane.
- Alabama: The area with the most extensive damage was in Selma.
- Florida: The hardest hit areas were in Palm Beach County, specifically the communities of Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Loxahatchee and The Acreage. Indian River County and Broward County also suffered heavy flooding.
- Louisiana: Severe flooding occurred in Plaquemines Parish, when an 18-mile stretch of levee was overtopped. Severe flooding also occurred in Slidell due to heavy storm surge off of Lake Pontchartrain. Heavy damage also occurred in St. John the Baptist Parish and Tammany Parish.
- Mississippi: More than 21,000 survivors have applied for federal assistance in the 17 counties that have been declared as disaster areas. The hardest impacted counties include Jackson, Pearl River, Holmes, Harrison, Hancock, Amite, Lincoln and Marion.
CWS Disaster Response Specialists are working with state, regional and local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, known as VOADS; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; our member denominations; and other agencies to determine where additional material good are needed. As well, they are determining where long-term recovery committees need financial assistance and training, and where CWS denominations can help most.
CWS has provided material resources to affected areas, including 2,290 CWS Blankets;1,018 CWS Hygiene Kits; 55 CWS Baby Kits; and more than 2,000 CWS Clean-Up Buckets. CWS will provide more as requested. CWS specialists have held meetings in Mississippi and will soon be meeting with volunteers in Louisiana.
CWS will assist communities in developing long-term recovery plans, and by providing technical and financial support. The CWS Emergency Response Specialist working with the organizations in Florida is Joann Hale (firstname.lastname@example.org). The specialist for Mississippi and Louisiana is Sandra Kennedy-Owes (email@example.com).
Other CWS-supported work:
CWS-member communions and affiliated organizations are in place in the affected states and are assisting hurricane survivors.
- Adventist Community Services is working with emergency managers to assist with donations management and to operate collection centers, multi-agency warehouses and distribution centers.
- Brethren Disaster Ministries is providing Children Disaster Services volunteers. Brethren staff and volunteers continue to distribute blankets, clothing packs and personal care kits.
- The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee has experts in place to assess needs who are developing long-term plans for home repair and rebuild.
- Lutheran Disaster Response is working with local affiliates doing debris clean up and removal in homes in Selma, AL.
- The United Methodist Committee on Relief is supplying clean up materials, hygiene kits and tarps as well as providing debris removal.
- Mennonite Disaster Service has personnel on the ground in the threatened states.
Other CWS communions and their respective humanitarian arms, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Episcopal Relief & Development; the United Church of Christ; the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); International Orthodox Christian Charities; and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance all have staff in place.
Services they will provide include debris removal (mucking out homes and chain sawing fallen trees); warehousing and distribution of supplies; providing emotional and spiritual care; providing personnel for feeding and sheltering operations; and volunteer management.
In short, now that the initial response phase is ending, CWS and its member communions will assist with the long term recovery of the affected communities and the many activities needed to rebuild homes, lives and communities.
The budget goal is $100,000. Funds are being used for processing and shipping material goods; for long-term recovery committee start-up grants; and for long-term recovery committee training activities.
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.
CONCERNING CLEAN UP BUCKETS: 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. Many people in need will benefit from these resources. However, the response to Hurricane Isaac is rapidly depleting our supplies, especially of CWS Clean Up Buckets. All efforts to replenish our supplies for future emergencies are as always, greatly appreciated. More information on Clean Up Buckets.
During disasters 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. 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.
Church World Service is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.