Disaster Services

A Christmas Blessing for Disaster Survivors

A Christmas Blessing for Disaster Survivors 2000 1045 SVDP USA

In Florida recently, St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services Corporation and local Vincentians worked together to bring a Christmas blessing for a family who really needed one.

Already facing a series of unforeseen challenges when Hurricane Idalia struck, an undocumented family was hit hard. And when a FEMA check was written to their infant child, the prospect of a homeless Christmas became a harsh reality.

Using funds from a Rapid Response Grant given to the Gainesville District Council, DSC and Vincentians sprung into action, quickly providing a 7-day hotel stay that ensured the family had immediate shelter and would not spend Christmas on the streets. With short-term housing secured, the team was able to get the family’s FEMA check into a credit union, giving them essential resources for survival. We then helped them get into a FEMA-provided trailer, providing a home base for the family as they rebuild their lives.

Thanks to your generosity and the collaborative efforts of SVdP, DSC, and FEMA, we were able to restore stability and hope for this family and so many others like them. Your support makes stories like these possible.

Thank you for being the heart and soul of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Together, we are creating a world where compassion reigns, and hope flourishes for disaster-impacted survivors.

With gratitude,
Elizabeth Disco-Shearer
CEO, Disaster Services Corporation, SVDP-USA

St. Vincent de Paul Continues to Serve 2021 Tornado Survivors

St. Vincent de Paul Continues to Serve 2021 Tornado Survivors 2554 2560 SVDP USA

On November 11, St. Vincent de Paul of Western Kentucky hosted 50 families who survived the 2021 tornadoes with a pre-Thanksgiving celebration in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Many survivors expressed their gratitude for St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services Corporation’s national House in a Box™ program. One survivor, Tommy Jackson, singled out SVdP Community Liaison, Vicki Duncan: “Miss Vicki was so helpful through it all. When I didn’t know where to go or what to do, she gave me direction. She is truly a blessing.” When he left, Jackson shared with Miss Vicki a handmade afghan and several scripture quotes that are dear to him.

Survivors had a chance to visit with SVdP Diocesan Council Board Members: President Nancy Harris and Vice President Harry Bellew. Harris reflected, “Journeying with the survivors in their recovery is essential so they know they’re not forgotten. We as Vincentians are the long-term recovery people. When everyone else is gone, we’re still here to help. Western Kentucky is our home.”

She continued, “I was humbled by their gratitude — their stories made it so real for me. It was also a great opportunity for us to visit with our special Mayfield Vincentians, they are our local boots on the ground.” The St. Joseph Conference from Mayfield provided the survivor families with fellowship and wonderful hospitality, including delicious food and refreshments.

The community still faces many unmet needs. SVdP Diocesan Council CEO Richard B. Remp-Morris says, “We are thankful for the resources to continue to help tornado survivors. We have seen such generosity from our donors, especially St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services Corporation and the American Red Cross. However, the need is still so great. It has been a privilege — and at the same time personally rewarding — to be able to serve the western Kentucky tornado survivors.”

As families left the event, they were gifted a new microwave, a tin of holiday cookies, and a $50 gift card towards their Thanksgiving meal. All children received a small bag of candy.

Disaster Services Offers Aid to Northern California Fire Victims

Disaster Services Offers Aid to Northern California Fire Victims 938 943 SVDP USA

When massive wildfires hit Northern California without warning, entire towns were destroyed, thousands were left homeless, and 16 people were killed. But thanks to your generosity, the St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services Corporation was there to help the Sacramento Diocesan Council respond and rebuild.

Survivors were living in RVs, leaving them vulnerable to the elements, while waiting for delayed state assistance to help them rebuild. Thanks to help from donors like you, DSC and the National Council were able to:

  • Assist 15 Households: The grant provided essential materials and supplies for survival and recovery.
  • Weatherize RVs: By equipping 10 RVs with roof coatings and caulking materials, the project protected families against the elements.
  • Solarize: Solar panels provided heating and cooling needs for a household living in an RV.
  • Provide Hot Water and AC: Families received hot water heaters and window AC units, restoring essential comforts.
  • Control Erosion: Supplies including paint rollers, caulking guns, gloves, fans, flashlights, batteries, and jack pads, were distributed to address pressing safety concerns.
  • Build Community: A poignant remembrance event connected 150 survivors with vital community resources and distributed 400 trees for reforestation and erosion control, fostering a sense of unity and renewal.

But the impact didn’t stop there. The second half of the grant helped volunteers complete vital solar repairs, bring damaged RVs up to safety standards, and distribute gravel, as well as providing fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, and smoke detectors.

Program Manager Simona Gallegos can’t thank donors enough. “Without this funding, these wildfire survivors would have remained stuck in a never-ending loop of destruction. This funding has equipped them to better deal with extreme weather situations and made them more sustainable in their recovery.”

To donate to the Annual Disaster Campaign, visit www.svdpusa.org/disaster

SVdP and Other Groups Band Together to Assist Flood Victims

SVdP and Other Groups Band Together to Assist Flood Victims 1264 942 SVDP USA

Today, we bring you an inspiring tale of resilience and community support following the recent flash flooding that wreaked havoc in the Cicero, Stickney, Berwyn, and Austin areas of Chicago.

At the beginning of July, the Chicago area faced an unexpected and severe flash flood, with a staggering 0.5 inches of rain falling every 10 minutes. The impact was devastating, leaving thousands of people grappling with the aftermath of major flooding in their homes and neighborhoods.

An estimated 15,000 individuals were affected by this natural disaster, with homes inundated and streets rendered impassable. The devastation was widespread, with approximately 4,600 homes completely destroyed by the floodwaters.

The resource center, which was made possible by the Town of Cicero’s sponsorship, saw an overwhelming turnout, with between 3,000 to 5,000 families seeking assistance. The spirit of unity and compassion was evident as neighbors and volunteers worked hand in hand to help their fellow community members.

In the face of such adversity, the communities came together to extend a helping hand to those in need. The Town of Cicero, Stickney, and Berwyn, along with the Austin area in Chicago, united to support the affected individuals and families. It was a testament to the strength and compassion that resides within the hearts of these communities.

 

During this challenging time, Church World Service stepped in to provide aid and donated the much-needed cleanup kits. Although the local Conference of St. Vincent de Paul did not directly provide the kits, they played a crucial role by connecting Church World Service with the impacted communities. The relief effort required a 501(c)(3) organization to sign off on the donation, and the St. Vincent de Paul Conference facilitated this process, allowing the support to reach those in need.

 

One of the driving forces behind the coordination and assistance efforts was Joe Butkovich of the SVdP Council of Joliet, a dedicated individual who serves as the Vice Chair of the NE IL COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disasters). Joe also plays a crucial role in the long-term recovery board of NVOAD (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). His expertise and commitment have been instrumental in ensuring effective disaster case management and guiding the recovery process.

As the affected communities slowly move towards recovery, it’s important to acknowledge that establishing the Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG) is a work in progress. These efforts take time, and the collaboration and cooperation of all stakeholders are essential to ensure a comprehensive and effective recovery plan.

Though the road to recovery may be long, the spirit of community support, resilience, and generosity shines brightly in the face of adversity. We stand in awe of the compassion and unity displayed by the Town of Cicero, Stickney, Berwyn, and the Austin area in Chicago during this trying time.

Together, as a united community, we can overcome any obstacle that comes our way. Let us extend our thoughts and support to those affected by the floods and continue to stand by them throughout their journey to recovery.

Thank you for being part of our compassionate and caring community. To support communities like Joe’s please visit www.svdpdisaster.org to support our efforts.

 

Conference Assists Survivors of Recent Tornado

Conference Assists Survivors of Recent Tornado 1568 882 SVDP USA

Written by: Mike Smith
Vice President, St. Elizabeth of Hungary Conference
Annunciation Catholic Church, Columbus, MS

The following is a heartwarming update regarding one Conference’s ongoing efforts to support those affected by the recent tornado in Amory, Mississippi.

In a recent meeting, our dedicated team, led by Conference Treasurer Rosemary Payne and myself, had the privilege of sitting down with Fr. Joseph, the Pastor of St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Amory, along with around ten other parishioners and community members. The primary objective of this meeting was twofold: to review the progress made in utilizing the funds generously provided to St. Helen’s by SVdP (Society of St. Vincent de Paul), and to discuss the future assistance that might be required.

Thanks to the unwavering support from SVdP, approximately $18,100 has been provided to St. Helen’s so far, enabling them to offer much-needed assistance to the affected individuals and families in the community. Additionally, 750 hygiene kits were sent to Life Springs Ministry, making a significant impact on the lives of those who received them.

During our meeting, we learned that around 75-100 families are still displaced, currently residing in hotel rooms located over 30 miles away from Amory. The lack of available apartments or permanent housing options in the area has posed significant challenges to their recovery. Fortunately, FEMA plans to provide temporary trailers to accommodate some of the displaced individuals, and Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse is generously donating several permanent trailers to the community. 

With the new school year just around the corner, we discussed the various needs of the affected families, including school clothes, supplies, linens, furniture, and more. We aim to provide comprehensive support to help them rebuild their lives and regain a sense of normalcy.

As we look ahead, our hearts are filled with hope and determination to continue supporting the resilient community of Amory. We are now exploring the possibility of requesting additional funding from SVdP Disaster Services to further bolster our assistance efforts. Your continued support and generosity play a crucial role in making these endeavors possible.

If you are interested in contributing or getting involved, please reach out to us. Together, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of those who have endured the devastating effects of the tornado.

Let us stand united in compassion and solidarity, showing the true spirit of community and support.

Disaster Services Corporation Launches Kare Wallet at VOAD Conference

Disaster Services Corporation Launches Kare Wallet at VOAD Conference 2420 1816 SVDP USA

Recently, SVdP’s Disaster Services Corporation attended the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) Conference held in St. Louis. DSC had an exhibitor booth at the event where they were able to engage with the more than 800 attendees, and network with other organizations that work with those affected by disasters, including FEMA and DHS.

During the Conference, VOAD held elections for the their board and national committee. Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, SVdP DSC CEO, was re-elected as the Board Chairperson. Kevin Peach, SVdP DSC COO, was elected as Chairperson of the Advocacy Committee. Anthony Pluchino, SVdP DSC CPO, was elected as Chairperson of the Disaster Case Management Committee. In their work as members of the VOAD Board and various committees, these roles ensure that SVdP DSC is working collaboratively to provide disaster relief to those in need.

At the Conference, the Kare Wallet was unveiled. This is a collaborative effort between DSC, Algorland, AID:Tech, and Amazon Business. It introduces an innovative solution to streamline aid distribution to disaster survivors, saving both time and money. This partnership is vital to the success of this technology, as it has the potential to make a tangible difference in assisting those in need. Kevin Peach, the COO of the Disaster Services Corporation, SVDP-USA, represented the organization on a panel of partners from all the organizatiosn involved in producine the Kare Wallet where they explained the transformative impact the technology will have on the delivery of disaster assistance.

The Kare Wallet launch marks a significant achievement for DSC and its partners. We extend our gratitude to everyone involved in making this innovation possible. The Kare Wallet has the potential to revolutionize the way aid is distributed during disasters, and we are excited about the positive impact it will have on helping those in need.

Please visit www.svdpdisaster.org to learn more about how you can support our mission.

Dedicated Vincentians Assist Those Affected by Recent Tornadoes

Dedicated Vincentians Assist Those Affected by Recent Tornadoes 1024 768 SVDP USA

SVdP Disaster Services Corporation is proud to announce that Vincentians Tom and Kathy Williams, both highly-trained DSC representatives, have successfully completed their deployment in Mississippi, where they spent six days tirelessly working to support disaster survivors in Rolling Fork and Silver City after the devastating tornadoes that hit in March 2023.

DSC sends trained volunteers to disaster sites across the country to support Councils in recovery efforts. During their time in Mississippi, Tom and Kathy helped a total of 99 households, providing referrals to legal services, crisis cleanup, medical care, and state insurance boards. They also assisted with FEMA relief applications, ensuring that those impacted by the disaster could receive the aid they needed to recover.

As volunteers, they had the privilege of meeting with community leaders and supporting the local SVdP Council’s disaster recovery efforts in the community. Throughout their deployment, Tom and Kathy witnessed the strength and resilience of the community. They expressed how grateful they were to be trusted with the survivors’ stories, and they will forever hold them in their hearts.

Tom and Kathy’s deployment made an important difference in the lives of these disaster survivors. DSC is proud of the work that Tom and Kathy accomplished, who are grateful for the opportunity to serve those in need.

Tom and Kathy feel blessed by their experience in Mississippi. Although the deployment may be over, the community is undoubtedly in good hands with local Vincentians and Pastor Britt Williamson. The work started by Kathy and Tom is being continued by Diane Clark, Vincentian and SE Regional Disaster Chair, and Jessica Duran, Vincentian and full-time Disaster Case Manager, who is taking time off from her regular duties to travel to Mississippi and provide further assistance to disaster survivors in their journey towards recovery.

Please visit www.svdpdisaster.org to learn more about how you can support our mission.

DSC Update — Tornado Relief Efforts

DSC Update — Tornado Relief Efforts 2560 1920 SVDP USA

Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, CEO of DSC, recently visited the tornado-ravaged areas of Rolling Fork and Silver Springs, MS and McEwen, TN, where she witnessed the ongoing recovery efforts of Vincentians in response to the devastating floods that had hit the area. She was struck by the extent of the damage in these towns, which left many dead and many homes and businesses flattened.

During her tour, Elizabeth had the opportunity to meet with local Vincentians and other community leaders, as well as the Chair of MS Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. The tornadoes that hit Rolling Fork and Silver Springs struck communities already grappling with high levels of poverty and social disadvantage, meaning that many survivors faced additional challenges in their recovery efforts, including limited access to resources, healthcare, and social support.

In response to these challenges, Elizabeth Disco-Shearer and her team have been working closely with local Vincentians and other community leaders to provide targeted support and assistance to those who need it most. This includes providing grants, training with Conference leaders, and technical support for recovery efforts, as well as helping to connect survivors with vital resources and services to address their basic needs.

Despite the ongoing challenges faced by these communities, Elizabeth remains hopeful and committed to the long-term recovery process. By working together and providing sustained support and assistance, she believes that we can help to rebuild these communities and create a brighter future for all those affected by these devastating disasters. However, the recovery process will be a long and difficult one, requiring sustained support and commitment from everyone involved.

Elizabeth would like to express her gratitude to Council President Carrie Johnson, Carol and George Evans, Tommy Jordan, Donavan Guilbeau, and Henry Barclay for their Vincentian Servant Leadership in the field. Their dedication and hard work are an inspiration to us all, and their efforts are making a real difference in the lives of those affected by these devastating disasters.

Please pray for the Vincentians who are enduring so much tragedy in these impacted areas. To learn more about our other projects visit: www.svdpdisaster.org.

SVdP Disaster Services Update

SVdP Disaster Services Update 2560 1920 SVDP USA

In December of 2021 an EF4 tornado struck several towns in Western Kentucky injuring 533 people and killing 57 people. The following summer season, torrential rains and deadly flooding struck in the same region of the state, impacting 14 counties and three cities declared local states of emergency. At least 37 people died, including four children.

Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) teamed up with the Diocesan Council of Western Kentucky and the American Red Cross in their disaster recovery operations through the nationally recognized House in a Box™ program. Through national partnerships, DSC was able to secure $1,700,000 in grant funding and $200,000 in in-kind donations from Good360 in the form of toys. To date, over 82 families have been served with 418 more families to go. In addition, SVdP Diocesan Council of Western Kentucky is leveraging their warehouse space to distribute toys to parents who otherwise would be unable to provide toys for their children for Christmas or birthdays. Families can also pick up hand-made quilts from SVdP’s partner agencies.

St. Vincent DePaul Diocesan Council of Western Kentucky CEO, Richard Remp-Morris says, “This has been a humbling experience, meeting the tornado survivors and hearing their horrific stories. I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and support in serving those in need with fellow Vincentians, Disaster Services Corp, Catholic Charities, VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters), and Long-Term Recovery groups.

Kevin Peach, Chief Operating Officer at Disaster Services Corporation, stated that “DSC is an awe of the resiliency of Kentuckians and we continue to support Kentuckians on their road to recovery. We’ve helped 82 families so far, help us assist more and as many more as needed to help these families and communities completely recover.”

To date the SVdP Diocesan Council of Western Kentucky has served more than 82 families with our grant funding and anticipate serving as many as 500 families’ total. The ability to serve more families will be possible if additional funding is raised,” says Remp-Morris.

One family that was supported by SVdP is the the Doty family from Fulton, Kentucky which was one of the areas devastated by the December 2021 tornado. While most of their possessions were lost or ruined that fateful night, they were able to rebuild their home. For several months they lived with family and later moved into a camper. It was crowded with seven kids and two adults.

Colin Doty said, “This is a gift from God for us. You can imagine how tight money is with seven kids but this is helping so much. Most everything we had is gone. Tonight everyone will have a bed and mattress to sleep on.”

DSC is incredibly thankful for the Diocesan Council of Western Kentucky and their good works to support those in their greatest time of need. Supporting disaster survivors at the end of the recovery life cycle is arduous work that often goes unnoticed and forgotten about by many who have not been impacted by disaster. May God bless you for your grace and kindness that has been extended to the impacted community.

Learn more about how you can help support our mission at: www.svdpdisaster.org

 

Disaster Services Update on California Severe Weather

Disaster Services Update on California Severe Weather 900 900 SVDP USA

This past week, much of California has been impacted by heavy storms that continues to cause extensive wind damage and flooding. California’s Governor Newsom has proclaimed a State of Emergency and a Presidential Emergency Declaration has been approved by President Biden to support response and recovery efforts. There continues to be a potential for more widespread power loss, fallen trees, and downed power lines.

Californian residents are encouraged to obtain the most up-to-date information on the rapidly changing road conditions, please check here for more information. Follow the Cal OES Twitter page for updates and tips on staying safe in the storm. Also, please check with local authorities for evacuation information and to sign up for emergency notifications. To sign up for your county’s emergency alerts, please check Cal Alerts to find your county.

Disaster Services Corporation, SVDP-USA remains engaged with the state Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, local partner agencies on the ground, and is providing support to the SVdP Diocesan Council of Sacramento. DSC is actively monitoring weather activity and will make plans to travel to the state once the all-clear is given and first responder agencies have departed.

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