Note: Church World Service is continuing to respond to disasters in places like Haiti and Japan as well as to recent events in the United States. Please support their work generously. Help now: Text CWS to 50555 to donate $10 or donate online! You can also assemble and donate Emergency Clean-up Buckets, which are desperately needed at this time.
At least 116 people have died in a tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., Sunday – the deadliest of 68 weekend tornadoes that affected seven states in a sweep from Oklahoma to Minnesota.
Officials said the Joplin tornado may be the single deadliest tornado in the U.S. since 1953. The tornado left a mile-wide path of destruction through the center of the town and directly hit Joplin's main hospital, officials said.
Among other tornadoes was one in Minneapolis which killed one person and affected a predominately low-income community.
The weekend of tornadoes is the latest in a series of serious domestic disasters in recent months, which aside from tornadoes have included floods. While numerous states are beginning the clean-up process, the flood crest continues down the Mississippi Valley. In Louisiana, for example, flood gates have been opened on the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers flooding numerous low-lying communities. The full impact of this flooding will not be known for several weeks.
The list of states with significant damage from the flooding include Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana. The states with significant spring storm and tornado damage, aside from Missouri (which had already been affected by previous tornadoes and storms) include Alabama, Illinois, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia and Ohio.
Many of the larger communities are well organized to conduct long-term recovery programs. However, some larger communities and numerous smaller communities were severely impacted. In these small and vulnerable communities long-term recovery committees are being formed. Many of these organizations will require training programs by CWS and its partner denominations.
Affected communities will be seeking material goods, training, mentoring and long term recovery committee start up assistance, as well.
- CWS will respond to any requests from Joplin, Mo., as needed.
- CWS has shipped the following to impacted areas, some directly to requesting agencies and some to community warehouse for rapid distribution by requesting communities: 868 Clean up Buckets, 1,020 Blankets, 780 Baby Kits, 4260 School Kits and 33,960 Hygiene Kits. The material resources are valued at $492,067 and our processing and shipping costs total $15,625. Communities served include: Butler, AL; Tuscaloosa, AL; Birmingham, AL; Raleigh, NC; Monmouth, IL; Gray, TN; Little Rock, AR; Hoover, AL; and Atlanta, GA. CWS has depleted its supplies of CWS Clean up Buckets. In those cases where CWS could not meet the need we have collaborated with denominational partners to fill requests.
- CWS, along with partner denominations, is organizing on-site Recovery Tools and Training and First Steps Training in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Alabama and Louisiana. This training will be for communities in the vicinity of Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Chattanooga, Memphis, Paducah, and Jasper.
Communities expected to attend this training include: Lomax, IL, Vilonia, AR, Hot Springs, AR, Pocahontas, AR, Morgan City, LA, Clinton, MS, Smithville, MS, Cleveland, TN, Vicksburg, MS, Mound City, IL, Cairo, IL, Metropolis, IL, New Madrid, MO (and other small communities in the Missouri boot hill region), Mississippi County, MO, Owensboro, KY, and Greenville, MS.
This is an incomplete list and is growing daily, and will grow extensively as additional communities become organized after the assessment of tornado damage and after the flood waters recede. CWS and partners are also developing training activities in southeast United States with the Wakefield Interfaith Committee in North Carolina. As many as a hundred communities can be expected to attend the training being planned.
- CWS Emergency Response Specialists continue to monitor and assess the many situations and are in discussions with the numerous long-term recovery committees being organized. As they organize they are appealing for funds to assist with the organization and set up costs. Many of the communities CWS is in discussion with are listed above.
While the total number of communities needing assistance cannot be made at this time, 50 or more should not be unexpected. CWS Emergency Response Specialists are in constant contact with these communities to mentor and guide them through the long term recovery start up process. They are also in contact with churches and faith based organizations, our member partners, FEMA Volunteer Liaisons, state and local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters to determine where the needs are greatest for material goods, training and long term committee start up support
Total is $280,000. This includes $240,000 for long-term recovery start-up, with a minimum of 30 groups at an average grant of $8,000 each. Other expenses: $20,000 for material resources and shipping; $20,000 for long-term recovery group training.
HOW TO HELP: Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be made online, sent to your denomination, or to Church World Service, Appeal #627-P, 2011 Spring Storms, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.