1998 NCC News Archives

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CWS Responds to Massive Human Needs from Continuing Storm Systems

Who We Are, What We Do

CWS works in more than 70 countries, including the U.S., in disaster relief, human development and refugee assistance. It is a ministry of the National Council of Churches, the nation’s preeminent ecumenical organization, which includes 34 Protestant and Orthodox member communions with a combined membership of nearly 52 million.

How to Help

Contact CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, Attn. 1998 Summer Storms and Floods, #976232, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Phone pledges or credit card donations: 1-800-762-0968.

NEW YORK, July 17, 1998 ---- Continuing storm systems in Iowa, New York, Vermont, Ohio, and West Virginia are creating massive human needs that have received little national news attention.

CWS, the humanitarian response ministry of the National Council of Churches, is seeking $125,000 from its member communions for development and support of cooperative faith-based recovery programs throughout the Midwest and East where flooding and tornadoes have killed two dozen people, affected more than 7,000 families, and caused multi-million dollar damage. Iowa and Ohio have experienced the worst of it so far with some 6,400 structures wind and/or water damaged.

CWS efforts are focusing on immediate cleanup needs of survivors and long-term recovery needs, assisted by a number of new faith-based organizations. "Long-term needs can encompass almost anything that the Red Cross and FEMA can’t address, from repair and rebuilding needs to temporary assistance with utilities and rent," explained Bob Arnold, Associate Director of the CWS Emergency Response Office. "Faith-based recovery organizations tend to concentrate on volunteer coordination and casework, not only helping people to rebuild physically but also to deal with the spiritual and emotional trauma they have experienced."

The state-by-state responses include:

Ohio: Twenty-six counties in Ohio have been declared eligible for federal or state disaster assistance. In three southeastern Ohio counties alone -- Guernsey, Noble, and Washington --where unemployment is high and residents are under-insured, tornadoes and floods destroyed 128 homes, caused major damage to another 500, and affected a total of 2,518 families. Officials estimate total damage at $130 million with closed roads in some areas hampering assessments and delaying recovery efforts.

In southeastern Ohio, CWS Disaster Resource Consultant Jim Ditzler of the United Church of Christ convened representatives from the Ohio Council of Churches, United Church of Christ, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, Mennonite Disaster Service, and Seventh-day Adventist Church, along with local emergency management officials, to take initial organizational steps in Zanesville. The group plans to develop an unmet needs committee. Contacts: Jim Ditzler: (330)-262-3242 (H), (330)-264-2727 (O), (330)-263-1521 (FAX); Ellis Wykstra: (616)-672-5390 (H), (616)-246-0738 (O), (616)-224-0806 (FAX), (800)-776-1960 (Pager), e-mail: wykstrae@crcna.org

CWS is working with its relief commodities distribution partner, Adventist Community Services (ACS), to supply health and cleanup kits to flood survivors in eastern Ohio. 175 CWS health kits and 50 CWS cleanup kits have been sent to Belle Valley to assist 175 displaced families. Another 350 health kits and 200-300 clean-up kits are headed to Zanesville. Health kits include basic hygiene items and clean-up kits include sponges, scrub brushes, garbage bags and cleansers. Ohio donations management officials report health kits are still needed and may be sent directly to a state warehouse in Columbus which ACS is managing. For further information and kit specifications, contact: Steve Rude, Herb Perine, Al Sands at (614)-752-520l. CWS is also stocking clean-up kits at an ACS warehouse at Thornville to meet emerging needs on an ongoing basis. Contact: J.C. Smith at (614)-434-2062.

Iowa: Floods and tornadoes have affected some 3,900 structures and caused an estimated $20 million damage to crops. CWS (FEMA Region VII) Disaster Response Facilitator Linda Reed-Brown of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is facilitating meetings of members of the state’s faith community who are exploring ways to cooperate in addressing flood and storm-related needs. Contact: Linda Reed-Brown: (573)-474-3332 (O), (573)-642-9326 (H), (573)-474-6898 (FAX), e-mail: UMC_Creative_Ministries@ecunet.org

New York & Vermont: In southwestern New York -- described as the "Appalachia" of the state -- damage totals at least $14 million following flooding in Cattaraugus, Erie, and Wyoming counties which were already cleaning up following tornadoes in June. The President has declared the three counties along with Essex in northern New York eligible for disaster assistance. In nearby Vermont where flooding damaged hundreds of homes, eight counties were declared state disaster areas. In the Arcade and Gowanda, N.Y., area, faith-based organizations and Healthy Community Alliance -- a coalition of community and civic groups -- are launching a long-term recovery program assisted by CWS Regional Facilitator Joann Hale of the United Church of Christ. Among other projects, the coalition plans to restore a local food pantry damaged in the floods. Ms. Hale and Art Jackson, Massachusetts CWS Disaster Resource Consultant of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, are assisting the Mad River Valley Interfaith in developing a flood recovery program in Vermont. Contacts: Joann Hale, 3331 Wallace Drive, Grand Island, NY 14072, (716)-773-7935 (H), (716)-884-4800 (O), (716)-472-6668 (cellular) (716)-884-6117 (FAX), (800)776-4660 (Pager), e-mail: jhale123@aol.com and Arthur R. Jackson: (508)-234-4241 (O), (508)-234-2981 (H), (508)-873-6812 (Cellular) (508)-234-4241 (FAX), e-mail: ajackson@kersur.net

West Virginia: In six West Virginia counties declared eligible for federal disaster assistance, floods destroyed 228 homes -- including 168 mobile units -- and caused major damage to another 365. CWS (FEMA Region III) Disaster Response Facilitator Shirley Norman of the Church of the Brethren reports "rural poor in the hollows were the primary people affected." CWS sent 200 clean-up kits to Huntington, West Virginia. Contacts: Shirley Norman: (724)-329-4936 (H), (724)-329-1302 (FAX), (304)-677-4821 (Cellular), (800)-780-0018 (Pager), e-mail: norman@hhs.net and Clark Peloubet: (304)-445-2833 (O), (304)-445-7814 (H), e-mail: clark_peloubet@ecunet.org


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