DALLAS, April 29, 2011—As communities across the South reel from the deadliest natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina, World Vision is appealing for $3 million to assist tornado survivors in an extensive, multi-state response effort. The Christian humanitarian organization expects the greatest immediate needs to include basic hygiene items, blankets, bedding, water, first aid kits, and flashlights. The aid group also plans to address the long-term recovery needs of affected families, with a specific focus on the needs of children.
“We will especially be looking for survivors where help hasn’t arrived yet,” said Phyllis Freeman, World Vision's domestic emergency response director and a veteran of the agency's Hurricane Katrina response. “We don’t want anyone who desperately needs assistance right now to fall through the cracks.”
Freeman and her relief team colleagues are currently en route to Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama to assess the greatest needs and to deliver an initial supply of personal hygiene items for survivors, many of whom have lost their homes and possessions. World Vision will partner with local churches and organizations to identify families and communities who are particularly vulnerable. Additional prepositioned supplies will be rushed from Dallas in the coming days, including clothes, shoes, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene kits to Alabama.
“It’s mind boggling to think of how many families and children now have no place to call home,” said Freeman. “In shelters, something as simple as a dry, clean mattress can provide at least a little bit of comfort during this incredibly stressful time.”
World Vision’s North Texas facility in Dallas will serve as a central hub for sending prepositioned emergency supplies to children and families most in need. World Vision is currently recruiting corporate partners to donate quality new product specifically needed in disaster areas, including rakes, generators, mops, brooms, and shovels. Cardinal Health is already pledging its support by donating personal hygiene items which will be distributed to children and families impacted by the historic storm.
"The best way Americans can help right now is through cash donations of any amount. This allows World Vision and other responding groups to purchase supplies locally and respond quickly," said Freeman. "We are also accepting new, top-quality donated items from U.S. corporations that fit the needs of survivors in affected communities," she added.
Meanwhile, World Vision staffer Nathan Looney reports from his hometown of Birmingham that while neighborhoods in his immediate area were spared, towns just 30 minutes north and south have been completely devastated:
"For my job with World Vision in Seattle, I get constant reports and images of disasters all over the world and here in the U.S. But everything is different when it's your hometown that has been affected,” said Looney.
Looney, who happened to be visiting his family for the Easter holiday, will connect with World Vision's incoming assessment team tomorrow as they jumpstart the agency's response.
The public can help by visiting www.worldvision.org, calling (888) 56-CHILD (24453), or by texting TORNADO to 20222.