Update: Early 2013 U.S. Storms, Floods and Tornadoes

April 24, 2013

Appeal # 627-X
Revised appeal goal: $80,000


The past 10 days were marked by a string of weather- and non-weather-related disasters across the United States.  These included:

  1. The Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, claiming three lives and injuring 176 persons, many severely.  More than 40 individuals remain in hospitals.
  2. The West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion on April 17, killing 14 and injuring 263.  Extensive property damage also occurred outside the plant: 75 to 100 homes and businesses were destroyed, including an apartment complex with 30 to 50 units. Additionally, at least 208 structures were damaged, 51 of them significantly.
  3. Heavy precipitation, high winds, tornadoes and extensive flooding that battered multiple states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The response in all situations includes significant faith community participation.  To better meet the needs caused by the unrelenting severity of the weather, and the recovery needs in West, Texas, CWS is increasing the goal for Appeal #627-X to $80,000 (from $25,000).  Details follow.

Weather-Related Emergencies:

Additional information on the impact since April 17:

IN ILLINOIS, heavy precipitation has resulted in widespread and severe flooding. The state has declared 44 counties as disaster areas. Flooding has occurred on numerous rivers and their tributaries, including the Mississippi, Illinois, Green, Spoon, Rock, DuPage, and Sangamon rivers. One person drowned in Jersey County.  Sandbagging and levee reinforcement and repair operations are ongoing throughout the state. Continued rainfall is anticipated and river levels are still at or near record levels.

Evacuations across the state include 1,500 persons in Marseilles (LaSalle County), a hospital and a nursing home in DuPage County, 126 persons in Hamburg, and 110 people in London Mills.  Evacuations also were needed in Fulton, Knox, Calhoun and Rock Island counties. In hard-hit LaSalle, 230 homes are flooded; in Lake County, 300 to 400 homes are flooded; and in Utica, 65 homes are flooded. Damage surveys are just beginning and the number of flooded homes is projected to significantly increase. Nine shelters remain in operation at this time.

IN INDIANA, 300 homes have been flooded in Elwood, Tipton, Kokomo and Howard counties. Four shelters are in operation and about 100 persons have been evacuated from their homes.

IN IOWA, five counties have reported major flooding: Cedar, Johnson, Mahaska, Scott and Washington. Affected communities include Dubuque, Burlington, Keokuk and Muscatine.

IN MICHIGAN, major to record flooding has occurred along the Grand River. Over 26,000 customers lost power. More than 200 people have been evacuated in Wyoming and Lowell, in Kent County.

IN MISSOURI, flooding of Joachim Creek has affected the community of Clarksville (Jefferson County). Cleanup continues in communities hard hit by tornadoes the week of April 13, including Hazelwood, Sullivan and De Soto. The town of De Soto was severely damaged and will be seeking significant assistance for its long-term recovery.

IN OKLAHOMA, storms across the state caused significant wind damage.  Several tornadoes were reported and some flooding occurred.  In Comanche County, 20 to 25 homes were damaged by high winds and flooding, with most of the impact near Medicine Park. A tornado touched down near Spavinaw, in Mayes County, destroying nine homes and severely damaging 16.  Flooding was reported in Grady, Caddo and Cherokee counties. Other counties with wind damage were McClain and Rogers.

IN SOUTH DAKOTA, ice storms and high winds downed numerous trees and utility lines. More than 100 homes were damaged, mostly near Sioux Falls.

IN WISCONSIN, flooding was reported in nine counties, and residents were evacuated from their homes in Kenosha County.

CWS Response:

  1. The response to the Boston Marathon bombing survivors has been huge at the local and national levels. CWS members Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and United Methodist Committee on Relief are providing emotional and spiritual care. Additionally, a Brethren Children’s Disaster Services team is on scene providing quality childcare at an American Red Cross Family Assistance Center. Communions have responded directly as well.
  2. In West, Texas, the response to the fertilizer plant explosion is in its early stages. Support to survivors is being provided by local relief agencies, volunteer organizations and faith-based organizations. CWS Emergency Response Specialist Sandra Kennedy-Owes is in contact with volunteer agencies in Texas and will provide CWS material goods as needed. CWS expects to support the town’s long-term recovery with training and an Early Response Grant.
  3. The response to the storms and flooding across the central and midwestern United States is just getting started. Most of the effort at this point is to provide relief to displaced survivors and to support sandbagging and flood control efforts. As families return to their homes, CWS will provide CWS material goods as requested. The first shipment – 500 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets – is being sent to the DuPage County Emergency Management Office in Wheaton, Ill., for distribution to flood survivors.

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.

While much of the immediate response will be provided by the affected communities and states, CWS member communions and partners and other volunteer organizations are, or will be, providing significant long-term recovery assistance.  Early response is coming from World Renew, the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Southern Baptist churches, United Methodist churches, Mennonite Disaster Service and other national, regional and local organizations.

CWS Emergency Response Specialists Sandra Kennedy-Owes and Susanne Gilmore are in close contact with long-term recovery committees and state VOADs in the affected areas. They will be coordinating the shipment of CWS material goods if requested and will provide long-term recovery trainings as needed. Many individuals from the affected communities have already participated in CWS webinars.  CWS will support newly forming long-term recovery committees with CWS Long-Term Recovery Early Response Grants, as needed.

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 Specialists for this appeal are:

Sandra Kennedy-Owesskowes@churchworldservice.org,  (251) 725-4262 (based in Alabama) (Oklahoma and Texas)

Susanne Gilmoresgilmore@churchworldservice.org,  (785) 477-7823 (based in Kansas) (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin)

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

Ku’ulei Funn, kfunn@churchworldservice.org,  (808) 226-6432 (based in Hawaii)

Joann Hale, jhale@churchworldservice.org or jhale123@aol.com, (917) 705-3038 (based in New York)

BUDGET: Total is $80,000. This includes:

  • $12,000 for material resources processing and shipping;
  • $50,000 for emergency response long-term recovery group grants (projected 10 grants of $5,000 each);
  • $18,000 for onsite 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. (REF: EARLY 2013 STORMS, FLOODS and TORNADOES APPEAL {U.S.} # 627-X.). Donations to our emergency response efforts around the globe may also be made online.

CONCERNING CWS EMERGENCY CLEANUP BUCKETS AND OTHER KITS: Thanks to the great efforts of CWS communions, CWS has made progress restocking its warehouses. 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 Care Kits and School Kits. Information on various kits that can be compiled and donated to CWS can be found athttp://www.cwsglobal.org/get-involved/kits.

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.

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