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USA: ERD expands its hurricane recovery program in Florida

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News and Press Release
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In August and September of 2004, violent storms pounded the Gulf Coast and Florida. Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne caused 130 deaths and $50 billion in property damage. The hurricanes destroyed 10,000 homes and damaged many more, ruined crops, and decimated the shrimp industry. It was the fourth-worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

Episcopal Relief and Development responded immediately by sending emergency assistance to nine dioceses that were affected by the storms: Southwest Florida, Central Florida, Central Gulf Coast, Southeast Florida, Florida, Pittsburgh, Mississippi, Western North Carolina, and Newark. Long-term recovery efforts are helping families and individuals to recover from this disaster.

In January 2005, ERD facilitated a meeting with local churches to assess continuing needs and discuss solutions. Of the nine affected dioceses, four requested ongoing rehabilitation support. ERD developed a comprehensive program to help communities in these dioceses (Central Gulf Coast, Florida, Central Florida, and Southeast Florida) rebuild.

ERD is expanding its recovery programs to hurricane-battered areas of Florida, to help communities address unmet needs and protect themselves against future disasters.

Current Programs

Rebuilding after a disaster:

ERD is working with underserved populations who have been unable to repair their homes and get their lives back to normal. Only 8,402 of the 1.2 million Florida residents who applied for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) received its maximum repair grant of $5,100. ERD is helping vulnerable families in the Diocese of Florida and the Diocese of Central Florida, including undocumented people and the elderly, make home repairs and pay utility bills.

The storms damaged or destroyed more than 150,000 homes in the Diocese of Central Gulf Coast. In that diocese, ERD is partnering with Rebuild Northwest Florida, an association of organizations that helps low-income families rebuild and repair their homes.

Across areas prone to hurricanes, ERD is stocking warehouses and Emergency Response Mobile Facilities with items such as generators, bottled water, chainsaws, and blankets. These supplies are often scarce and overpriced as stores run out of them after disasters.

In the Diocese of Florida and the Diocese of Central Gulf Coast, ERD is providing counseling to people traumatized by the disaster. Additionally, in the Diocese of Central Gulf Coast, ERD is training clergy members to help care for parishioners suffering from post-traumatic stress.

And in the Diocese of Central Florida, ERD is helping hurricane victims still living in emergency shelters to move back into regular housing.