Catholic Charities Network helps 300,000 victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita; CCUSA provides more than $69 million to assist with recovery efforts

from Catholic Charities USA
Published on 22 Feb 2006
Alexandria, VA -More than 300,000 victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita-including 87,000 children and 10,000 seniors-have received assistance by the Catholic Charities network, with aid to Gulf Coast residents coming from as far away as Maine and Washington State.

To date, Catholic Charities USA has allocated more than $69 million to 76 local Catholic Charities agencies and other Catholic organizations responding to the needs of families affected by the hurricanes.

"Catholic Charities agencies across the nation have made a difference in the lives of hurricane victims when help was needed most," said Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. "We can never put a value on the lives rebuilt and the hearts restored to hope. It's clear that the recovery efforts will continue for some time, and Catholic Charities will be there as long as the need remains."

Experienced in helping people living in crisis, the Catholic Charities network immediately pressed into action last summer to provide help to Katrina and Rita hurricane survivors. Agencies in directly impacted areas initially took on the role as short-term disaster responders, providing victims with food, financial aid, clothing, shelter, gas and retail store cards, and household goods.

Now, as the nation marks the six-month anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast, Catholic Charities case managers are working with families to find jobs, long-term housing, and other services, and also to help people deal with the emotional traumas they have experienced.

The response of the Catholic Charities network extends far beyond the work done by agencies in the Gulf Coast. More than 80 agencies across the country have responded to help families recover.

Hundreds of thousands of evacuees have fanned out across the country, most with little more than the shirts on their backs and little hope of returning home soon, or at all. Since September, numerous Catholic Charities agencies have welcomed evacuees to their cities, providing them with emergency assistance, crisis counseling, case management, transportation, temporary housing and employment services, as well as assistance in applying for government aid. Among other things, agencies have opened shelters, established temporary housing in diocesan and state facilities, moved elders into available senior housing, paid rental deposits and rents, organized parish "Adopt-a-Family" programs, held furniture drives, and raised money.

In addition, a number of agencies have sent case managers, nurses, volunteer coordinators, and other personnel to assist agencies in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi in dealing with large numbers of evacuees. Other agencies have sent groups of volunteers to impacted areas to help with clean up and repair.

A sampling of services provided by the Catholic Charities network shows that:

- 40 million pounds of food has been distributed;

- 32,000 people have received clothing;

- 42,583 people have received case management assistance-a holistic array of services and supports aimed at moving a family or individual toward recovery and self sufficiency;

- 84,898 people have received referrals;

- 3,000 people were provided medical assistance or help with prescriptions;

- 166,168 people have received direct financial assistance such as gift cards or cash, gift cards/cash, to help with mortgage or rent payments and home repair.

Record Funding Supports Local Recovery Work

The $69 million in funding provided by Catholic Charities USA to support the recovery efforts of local agencies is being allocated from the record $154 million raised by Catholic Charities USA to assist in the network's largest disaster response effort in its history. The funding to Catholic Charities USA includes a $12.2 million Katrina Aid Today grant from United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to fund case management services of 26 Catholic Charities agencies in 13 states.

In addition to the UMCOR grant, 76 Catholic Charities agencies and Catholic organizations have each been allocated disaster grants from Catholic Charities USA ranging from $2,000 to $25 million to provide emergency and long-term relief efforts.

All monies donated for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita recovery will continue to be distributed in the weeks, months, and years to come as local agencies carry on their recovery work. Catholic Charities USA, which was commissioned by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to represent the Catholic community in times of domestic disaster and to respond with emergency and long-term assistance as needed, estimates that approximately 96 percent of the donations to its 2005 Hurricane Relief fund will go directly to victim assistance.

The Network-Wide Response

Many agencies in the Catholic Charities USA network have responded with help. This outpouring of support includes:

- More than 61,000 persons have been served in various ways by Catholic Charities of New Orleans since Katrina blew ashore. Among its many services that it is providing, the agency has opened nine emergency centers in neighborhoods throughout the areas affected providing direct assistance.

- Catholic Charities Idaho funded shipment of a 27-foot trailer filled with first aid and emergency supplies, food and water, pet supplies, baby supplies, hygiene items and another 27-foot trailer filled with clean mattresses. Local parishes collected backpacks with school supplies.

- Catholic Charities CYO in San Francisco paid for plane fares so that evacuees could be reunited with family members.

- Catholic Charities in Bridgeport, CT, sent several truckloads of home furnishings for 20 apartments in Houston for evacuees.

- Catholic Community Service of Southern Arizona in Tucson, AZ, provided medical care through its primary care facility-St. Elizabeth of Hungary Clinic-for 30 individuals, with services such as surgical follow-up, wound treatment, chronic disease care, medications, and dental services. This includes assistance to one woman who had a mastectomy only days before being evacuated.

- Catholic Social Services in Atlanta established a counseling hotline for hurricane victims, and is meeting spiritual needs by providing rosaries, bibles, and Mass schedules when requested.

- Catholic Charities in Dallas worked with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program to provide legal relief clinics to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

More examples of the recovery work of Catholic Charities nationwide are available online at

Catholic Charities USA's members-more than 1,700 local agencies and institutions nationwide-provide help and create hope for more than seven million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. For more than 275 years, local Catholic Charities agencies have been providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from day care and counseling to food and housing. For more information, visit