The CWS U.S. Emergency Response Program helps communities recover better and faster following disaster. It focuses on reaching the most vulnerable survivors, including those with the fewest means and those with language, age, disability and other access issues and functional needs. CWS Emergency Response Specialists belong to a web of disaster response networks in their regions. Immediately after disaster strikes, they offer CWS Kits and Blankets and help keep CWS member communions up to date on areas of impact and need. CWS also offers a multi-faceted training and education program in disaster preparation, mitigation and response and support for the long-term recovery process.
In FY 2014, CWS continued its response to Superstorm Sandy. CWS has raised a little over $900,000, including a $305,395 grant from the American Red Cross. To date, CWS has supplied $1,224,874 in material goods donated by its member communions and their congregations. It has approved grants for 18 long-term recovery groups; conducted more than two dozen “Recovery Tools and Training” safety and other workshops and is providing ongoing consultation and support for recovery groups, especially in hard-hit New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Large-scale disasters such as Superstorm Sandy receive sustained attention. But smaller disasters often do not, so CWS makes sure its members know about smaller-scale, regional events and offers material goods and expertise. This past year CWS responded to a string of regional storms, floods, tornadoes and wildfires that affected thousands of households in almost every U.S. state. In all, in FY 2014 CWS approved unrestricted “start-up” grants totaling $124,000 in support of 25 long-term recovery groups in 12 states, from California to Connecticut. CWS Emergency Response Specialists conducted 15 in-person long-term recovery trainings and consultations and several dozen in-person assessments and consultations. In addition, they offered eight free national webinars that reached a cumulative 442 participants from 13 states.
CWS and the Week of Compassion of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) made an important contribution to U.S. disaster preparedness with the publication of Help and Hope: Disaster Preparedness and Response Tools for Congregations. This new tool prepares congregations to respond effectively and with confidence, whether it’s following a devastating tornado like that in Joplin, Mo., a school shooting as in Newtown, Conn., a superstorm like Katrina or Sandy, or even smaller, local emergencies.