Hurricane Isaac: CWS Emergency Situation Report

Hurricane Isaac made landfall on August 28 and continues to produce drenching rains that are expected to cause significant inland flooding. While damage assessments cannot start until the storm moves past the coast, CWS Emergency Response Specialists are working with state, regional and national agencies to determine where help is needed.

People escaping flooded waters

Chris Winkleblech helps his neighbors Angelina Jordan, 6, and Virginia Jordan (right) evacuate the Forestwood Apartments in the Olde Towne area after Hurricane Isaac passed through Slidell, Louisiana, August 30, 2012. Hurricane Isaac forced evacuations affecting tens of thousands of people in Louisiana and Mississippi. REUTERS/Michael Spooneybarger

Situation report:

Hurricane Isaac made landfall last night as a slow moving Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 40 to 80 miles per hour. While it only has Category 1 winds, it is a large and wide ranging storm with a significant storm surge, and it will continue to produce drenching rains from the Florida panhandle to the eastern coast of Texas. The storm is extremely slow moving and is still over the Louisiana coast where it continues to sustain its energy from the waters of the gulf. The continued storm surge combined with high tides will significantly add to the coastal flooding. Damage assessments cannot start until the storm moves past the coast. As it moves north, heavy rains can be expected to cause significant inland flooding. It is also not uncommon for tornadoes to spin off from a hurricane.

The town of Plaquemines, La., (south of Baton Rouge) has been flooded when Mississippi River waters overtopped the town’s levee. Residents are reporting as much as 12 feet of water in their homes. Rescue operations are underway. Mass care sheltering operations are up and running in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Power outages are reported in several states. As many as 500,000 customers have lost power in Louisiana; it will take several days before power is restored. Earlier heavy rains from Isaac drenched parts of Florida and surveys are underway there to determine the storm’s impact. There was flash flooding on the eastern coast of Florida and some storm surge flooding on the western coast.

CWS response:

CWS Emergency Response Specialists are working with state, regional and local VOADs (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), our member denominations and other agencies to determine where CWS denominations are helping or are needed. CWS will provide material resources, including blankets, Hygiene Kits and Clean-up Buckets, as requested. CWS also will assist communities in developing long-term recovery plans, providing technical and financial support, as possible. The CWS Emergency Response Specialist working with the organizations in Florida is Joann Hale. The specialist for the Gulf Coast states is Sandra Kennedy-Owes.

CWS communions and affiliated organizations are in place in the affected states and ready to assist hurricane survivors. Adventist Community Services is working with emergency managers to assist with donations management and will operate collection centers, multi-agency warehouses, and distribution centers as needed. Brethren Disaster Ministries has Children Disaster Services volunteers on standby and ready to deploy. The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee will have teams ready to respond where most needed. Lutheran Disaster Response is in contact with local affiliates and is making preparations for volunteer deployment. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has its Control Center up and running and they are positioning goods. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has it Gulf Conferences on standby; they are prepositioning supplies to the region. Mennonite Disaster Service has personnel on the ground in the threatened states. Other CWS communions, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Episcopal Relief & Development, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), International Orthodox Christian Charities, have their people on standby and will respond when and where needed. Services that will be provided include debris removal (mucking out homes and chain sawing fallen trees), warehousing and distribution of supplies, emotional and spiritual care, providing personnel for feeding and sheltering operations, volunteer management and much more. As the storm passes and the initial response phase ends, CWS and its member communions will assist with the long-term recovery of the communities and the many activates needed to rebuild, homes, lives and communities.

How to help:

Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts around the world may be made online, sent to your denomination, or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.

During disasters such as this are the time to remember that the most important humanitarian donation that an individual can make is money. There are already reports of heaps of used clothing piling up: clothing and other materials that do little to restore the dignity of survivors. Remember, financial help is best. If you do have supplies that may be of help, contact a CWS Emergency Response Specialist to see if the materials can be used and where.

ACT Alliance  Church World Service is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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