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Responding to Disaster – Rebuilding Communities

2014 6 16 Disaster article pic

By Inga Jelescheff

From devastating flooding and landslides in Colorado and the Midwest to catastrophic tornadoes in Oklahoma, last year the US saw wide-spread impact from natural disasters, with seven weather-related disasters topping the billion-dollar mark in damage. In the last decade,the United States has consistently ranked among the top five countries most frequently impacted by natural disasters, and a report from the Environment America Research and Policy Center stated that 243 million people – nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population – live in counties that experienced at least one weather-related disaster since 2007. In many communities across the country, such as those impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the needs of disaster survivors continue, beyond the time when the disaster ceases to be covered in the news. The reality isthat long-term recovery is just beginning in many of the 2013 disas-ter-impacted areas. The need among disaster survivors for continued support is enormous, and the US Catholic community is there to help. Through the generosity of our donors, the Catholic Charities network was able to provide disaster relief and recovery through 43 local agencies to communities in 24 states across the country. In 2013 over$12 million dollars in Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) grant funds was awarded to individuals and families whose lives were devastated by these disasters. Providing Emergency Grants as well as ongoing and newly awarded Long Term Recovery Grants, CCUSA was at the fore-front for providing support to local Catholic Charities agencies affected by disasters. These funds include new grant dollars received by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for Hurricane Sandy and other 2013 disaster recovery efforts. CCUSA was able to provide 15new long-term recovery grants in November 2013. These grants are supporting agencies from Rockville Centre, NY, to Fort Worth, TX, and Newark, NJ, to Denver, CO. While Catholic Charities agencies are seen as a nationwide leader in disaster case management services, many Catholic Charities agencies are adding to this traditional service provision to create innovative long-term recovery programs targeting the specific needs of the disaster impacted populations.

See more examples of CCUSA member agencies’ disaster services in this week’s featured article from the Spring 2014 issue of Charities Magazine.