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Throughout the spring and summer of 2013, numerous emergencies have affected communities throughout the United States.
Many communities have suffered the destructive impact of tornadoes. The largest were in Oklahoma, striking the Oklahoma City area over a period of several days. Affected communities were Carney, El Reno, Moore, Norman, Oklahoma City and Shawnee. More than 1,300 homes were destroyed and dozens of lives were lost. Tornadoes from this and other storm systems also occurred in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Texas.
Severe storms also have caused flooding throughout much of the nation. Communities hardest hit include the Oklahoma City, Okla., area; San Antonio, Texas; Iowa City, Waterloo and Coralville, Iowa; Paducah, Ky.; Waynesville and West Alton, Mo.; Sioux Falls, S.D., and Hutchison and Lindsborg, Kan. States where significant flooding has occurred include Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
In addition, the 2013 fire season is severe. In the Black Forest section of Colorado Springs, almost 500 homes were destroyed before that fire was put out.
While some fires have been contained, dozens continue to rage across the U.S. West, including in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Of most concern is the Beaver Creek Fire in Camas County, Ore. The fire has burned more than 100,000 acres, and 3,700 homes are threatened. Also of concern is the Government Flats Complex Fire in Wasco County, Ore., and the Lolo Creek Fire in Missoula County, Mont.
In most states the initial rescue and response actions are complete. Now comes the difficult task of long-term recovery. CWS Emergency Response Specialists are in close contact with the many organizations involved to identify the needs of the survivors. These include state, regional and local VOADs (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster), FEMA, State Emergency Management Agencies, interfaith organizations, CWS member communions and many other agencies. As the communities are ready, CWS emergency response specialists will provide training and limited funding to newly formed long-term recovery groups.
On September 5, CWS Emergency Response Specialist Sandra Kennedy-Owes will conduct a day-long Recovery Tools and Training workshop in Oklahoma City. The workshop will be supported with experts from World Renew, Lutheran Disaster Response, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Oklahoma State VOAD, FEMA, Oklahoma State Emergency Management Office and others. Seminar topics will include Emotional and Spiritual Care, FEMA and Other Assistance, Construction Management, Volunteer Management, Needs Assessment, and Disaster Case Management, and leaders will respond to the questions of those who attend.
In late September, similar training will be conducted for flood-impacted communities near Chicago and Bloomington, Ill. Discussions are under way exploring additional Recovery Tools and Training seminars in Colorado, Kansas and Kentucky.
CWS has also provided CWS Long-Term Recovery Group Startup and Sustainment Grants to long-term recovery groups in affected communities. These small grants help the LTRGs get set up, organized and working. Funds are commonly used for office equipment and supplies, telephone and internet services, transportation and personnel.
Grants under this appeal have been approved for Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Iowa, and New York. More grants are being requested and will be approved as funds permit.
CWS also responds to requests for CWS material goods during the earlier stages of disasters. Goods provided under this appeal include 2,977 CWS Emergency Clean Up Buckets, 380 CWS Hygiene Kits, 1,940 CWS Blankets, 510 CWS Baby Care Kits, and 1,940 CWS School Kits. The value of these 10,527 items is over $350,000. Communities receiving CWS material goods are in Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.
Additionally, CWS continues to collect information about the many storms, tornadoes, fires and floods that have occurred in recent weeks. CWS will support affected communities with CWS Kits and Blankets, Long-Term Recovery Group Startup and Sustainment Grants, and long-term recovery training and consultation.