Church World Service announced last week the receipt of a $1 million grant from United Way of America for construction projects providing new or rehabilitated housing to under-served individuals and families whose homes were heavily damaged or destroyed during the 2004 hurricane season.
With the Atlantic hurricane season under way, tens of thousands are still doing their best to cope with the consequences of 2004, when parts of Central and North America were pounded by four hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne within six weeks, leaving more than 1,500 people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
"You still fly over parts of Florida and see blue tarps, roofs that have not been repaired yet," said Craig Fugate, director of the Division of Emergency Management in Florida, where the hurricanes caused 123 deaths and more than $42 billion in property damage much of which has not been fixed.
Fugate told the Los Angeles Times that more than 10,000 families in hard-hit Florida remain in temporary housing after losing their homes in the 2004 storms.
Church World Service (CWS), which announced Thursday receipt of the $1 million grant from United Way of America (UWA) for construction projects, has so far helped organize more than 50 long-term recovery groups in eight U.S. states most affected by last year's hurricanes and tropical storms Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. With the United Way's support, CWS says it will identify rebuilding collaborations and bolster the pace of home rebuilding and repair for the most vulnerable families.
"CWS helps local communities identify and serve the most vulnerable disaster-affected families, especially with their housing needs," said Linda Reed-Brown, Church World Service Associate Director for Domestic Disaster Response.
"Elderly persons, those on limited income, families with small or school-age children and single-parent families are vulnerable populations and in many instances not only were their homes destroyed, but they also lost jobs. They have very limited resources for recovery," Brown explained in the CWS statement released on June 9. According to CWS, the UWA grant will fuel the actual rebuilding process by providing building materials to rebuilding organizations.
UWAs President and CEO, Brian Gallagher, made note of CWSs long and unique history of providing leadership in organizing and mentoring collaborative efforts that carry out long-term recovery in disaster-affected communities," adding that "our investment in this partnership will improve lives of hurricane survivors and their families."
United Way's role in community preparedness and disaster recovery began in 1999 with an effort to build United Way capacity to help one another during and after community crisis. This year, UWA supported long-term recovery coordinator staff positions throughout Florida, Alabama, and North Carolina and also supported twelve statewide community readiness initiatives.
As the relief and development ministry of 36 U.S. Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox denominations, Church World Service has assisted communities within the United States in responding to disasters, resettled refugees, promoted fair national and international policies, provided educational resources, and offered opportunities to join a people-to-people network of local and global caring.
CWS also works worldwide in partnership with indigenous organizations in more than 80 countries to meet human needs and foster self-reliance for all whose way is hard.