Church World Service continues hurricane recovery efforts

New York, NY - In what has been the most active hurricane season in a decade, residents of Florida, Alabama, and at least seven other states on the east coast continue to recover from the devastation wrought by four major hurricanes -- Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. In all, the storms claimed more than 70 lives in the United States, damaged more than 100,000 homes, and disrupted the lives of millions.

The Church World Service response to this multi-state emergency represents a long-term commitment. CWS Disaster Response & Recovery Liaisons (DRRLs) have been on-site since the first hurricane made landfall and continue working on-site in Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

CWS Emergency Response staff are working with denominations and local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs) to coordinate recovery structures that identify and address unmet needs of the most vulnerable.

For example, the agricultural business was significantly impacted. Small citrus growers have been forced out of business, affecting tens of thousands of farm and citrus-industry workers. Three-quarters of the farm-industry workforce in Florida are migrants from South America, Mexico and Caribbean islands with special needs regarding language and culture. Many communities have been identified as poor and isolated with limited resources for recovery and have special needs related to age (children and elders), language, limited or non-existent available housing, and limited access to basic living needs. Thousands of elderly residents lived in mobile home communities now destroyed or seriously damaged by the hurricanes.

CWS Interfaith Trauma Response Team (ITRT) program is a part of the CWS response to these devastating disasters. "Care for the Caregiver" resource seminars have been conducted in three of the hardest hit areas of Florida -- Lee, Desoto and Volusia counties. The seminars, a spiritual and emotional care focus, provide tools for clergy and other caregivers to address the psychological and emotional impact of disasters, both for their constituents and for their own self-care. "Care for the Caregivers" workshops will continue throughout November and December.

CWS is connecting the faith community to the many governmental and community programs that are building long-term recovery by providing expertise, guidance, and training in development of community long-term disaster recovery structures, as well as identifying communities which continue to need shipments of CWS material resources.

CWS has provided emergency seed grants to support community recovery organizations and will be providing further significant grant funds.. CWS has also shipped over 12 tons of material resources to assist relief efforts. Local CWS partners have distributed CWS Blankets and "Gift of the Heart" Kits -- Baby Kits, Health Kits, and Emergency Clean-up Buckets to the most vulnerable disaster-affected families.

Contributions to support this emergency appeal may be made online, by phone: (800) 297-1516, or sent to: Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN, 46515

Media Contacts:

Ann Walle, CWS/New York, 212-870-2654;
Jan Dragin, CWS, 781-925-1526;