disaster

Disaster Services Update on Hurricane Ian

Disaster Services Update on Hurricane Ian 1640 924 SVDP USA

Disaster Services Corporation is actively monitoring Hurricane Ian and its anticipated impact on the state of Florida. We are coordinating with SVdP Council and Conference leadership as well as with the National Council. DSC has sent Rapid Response Grant applications to Council leadership pre-landfall to ensure that funding is available immediately.

As the storm makes landfall, we ask the Vincentian community to keep those in its path in their thoughts and prayers.

We have received several inquiries on how the Vincentian community can help; as soon as we have more information on needs and opportunities to assist, we will post those updates on our website and our social media accounts. We are on calls with FEMA and are monitoring the potential impact of Hurricane Ian.

Bishop Gregory L. Parkes of St. Petersburg invited all in the dioceses throughout to pray to God “for the protection of life and property as we face this serious threat. As Hurricane Ian approaches our area, as we make our final preparations, and as we begin to feel the effects of the storm, I invite you to pray with me.”

As of this morning, the National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will make landfall as a Hurricane 4, slightly weakening as it makes its way across the state. Hurricane Ian is a slow-moving system, which increases the damage and devastation to the communities in its path, producing severe floods and tornado outbreaks.

As we know, storms have the potential to increase and change course. For those being affected by this storm we remind you to seek shelter and await guidance from local officials before making any further action.

Survivors with internet access can contact DSC directly at their website, or via Facebook.

09-29-22 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

09-29-22 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 720 720 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

It is the time of the year when hurricanes make headlines as they leave suffering and damage in their wake. I ask you, your Conference, and your Council to consider contributing generously this month to our National Council Annual Disaster Appeal. This is the best and most effective way to get disaster aid to our members working in the United States in cooperation with our Disaster Services Corporation and to provide disaster relief throughout the world through our international structure. This appeal allows us to respond quickly to requests. It also provides funds for disasters that may not make the headlines in your local media. Our Conferences in those areas often need our help just as much as those located where a major hurricane strikes.

Once again, this month in Puerto Rico, such a hurricane struck. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul will be working through our members there to provide assistance to their neighbors in need. We are just starting to get communications from our members in Puerto Rico and are waiting to hear how we can help.

But, as I was writing this, another hurricane was headed toward Florida — with unknown consequences. This illustrates the reason why we have one annual collection that can then be used as we learn the actual needs our Vincentians identify after disasters.

The Society’s Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) gives us excellent capacity to serve after a disaster. The DSC constitutes a knowledgeable team to provide training for our members and to secure private and governmental grants that greatly expand the ability of the Society to serve in these situations. The support the National Council provides for the DSC’s efforts is largely funded by this Annual Disaster Appeal.

In the past year, the DSC has helped Councils in every region of the country respond to floods, tornadoes, wildfires, and hurricanes. The success of this appeal last year meant that we did not have to keep sending out fundraising requests for every one of these efforts. I suspect you would become annoyed with the National Office if we did that.

This appeal will also support the international relief provided by the Society through the Commission for International Aid and Development (CIAD). My position as a vice president on the International Board of Directors is responsible for these grants, and I can assure you that this assistance is very much needed to support the work of our members throughout the world. I also can assure you that the use of the funds is monitored closely, with appropriate reports for accountability.

Again, a single appeal allows us to fund response to many disasters you will never hear about. The single appeal also avoids funds being designated to a country without the capacity of members there to use donations that well-meaning councils might otherwise send.

Before committing funds to a particular disaster, it is important to be certain the local Councils have the people and capacity to put our donations to work. Days before Hurricane Fiona stuck Puerto Rico, a Southeast Region team — led by John Berry, Isabel Darcy and Pam Matambanadzo — were on the island working with our members to strengthen our presence there. While they were in Puerto Rico, they observed that people still have not recovered from Hurricane Maria five years ago.

When major disasters strike, the need for assistance can last for many years. Long after the reporters have left, our Vincentians will be there helping their neighbors.

Please be generous in supporting this campaign. Frédéric Ozanam saw the Society as a network of charity. The network he envisioned has come to embrace the world. It is at its strongest and most caring when we support the work of Councils and Conferences of our Vincentian sisters and brothers faced with relieving the unforeseen suffering of a natural disaster. Finally, let us all be committed to praying regularly for the safety and emotional health of all those who are suffering from the results of these storms and those who are dedicated to bringing them aid.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month 940 788 SVDP USA

National Preparedness Month Information From Disaster Services Corporation

Recently, it was reported that 246 people lost their lives from the ice storms that hit Texas last year.  The United States census bureau also released that at least 1,400 people lost their lives last year due to the fact they were not prepared for extreme cold weather. Not all winter storms are created equal; but when you are properly prepared, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Blizzards and other extreme cold weather events can last from a few hours or a few weeks. It can cause frozen roadways, dangerously high winds, and raise the risk of frostbite and hypothermia.

Like hurricanes, freezing storms can cause widespread power outages, cutting off your access to heat, and increasing the likelihood that your children, elderly loved ones, and pets will get sick from the cold.

That’s why preparing for extreme winter weather is so important. The following is a list of preventive measures you can take to “winterize” your home.

  • Stock your home with enough food, water, and supplies to last for days without power. Essential supplies include batteries, flashlights, radios, portable cell phone chargers, medication, pet food and supplies, and any necessary items for family members with health conditions.
  • Insulate doors and windows with caulk or weather stripping.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly, and keep backup batteries on hand.
  • Insulate walls, attic, and any water lines that run through exterior walls to keep them from freezing.
  • Consider adding exterior storm shutters to your windows for extra protection from flying debris.
  • When temperatures are at or below freezing for an extended period of time, keep faucets on a constant drip to prevent pipes from freezing and potentially bursting.
  • Make sure you know where the main water valve is in your home in case a pipe bursts due to the cold. And schedule a family meeting to brief them on how to shut it off.
  • Make sure your roof is free of leaks. The better shape your roof is in, the less the cold can get in.
  • Cut down any tree branches that may break off and damage your house.
  • Plan on using your fireplace to stay warm? Schedule yearly chimney and flue inspections to ensure it’s safe to use.
  • Have a set of blankets and clothing stored in a water-resistant bag that can be easily accessed in an emergency.

No one ever expects their life to be turned upside-down by a natural disaster, but preparing ahead of time can make a stressful situation a bit easier! #BePrepared

 

SVdP Disaster Services Volunteer Helps Hurricane Ida Survivors

SVdP Disaster Services Volunteer Helps Hurricane Ida Survivors 969 727 SVDP USA

Dave Brucker is the Council President for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Diocese of Tyler and has been a volunteer since 2017 with the Disaster Services Corporation SVdPUSA. He has deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, and several other locations. Dave is trained to run one of the programs of Disaster Services called Parish Recovery Assistance Centers. Parish Recovery Assistance Centers or P-RACs are a holistic, community-based, approach to helping families immediately after a disaster hits. Catholic organizations working together to deliver critical information and referral services along with immediate relief to the survivors of a given disaster. P-RACs are led by trained Rapid Response Teams, that will train others, to provide information on FEMA, SBA, ONA, state, and local disaster programs, and to provide assistance, supplies, registration, spiritual, and emotional care.

Below is a short narrative on Dave’s recent experience helping Hurricane Ida survivors in the Diocese of Houma Thibodaux.

“Thanks goes to the SVdP-DSC organization for the recent opportunity to assist those in need due to Hurricane Ida in South Louisiana. The primary purpose was, of course, to contribute to the eventual recovery of the physical needs and conditions of those affected. And in some small way, this was accomplished. But this deployment in particular, allowed the goodness of so many local residents to shine through. The Diocese responded with a most capable priest, Father Simon Peter, empowered to lead recovery efforts, recruit volunteers, and coordinate agencies. I saw Catholic Charities deeply involved and working side-by-side with SVdP. I saw an army of local Vincentians volunteering at the P-RACs – many full time over a couple of weeks. And many with damage of their own homes with which to contend.  Most impressive was the many volunteers from the parishes that served as hosts for the P-RACs. All so generous of their time. Disasters are never a good thing, but disasters can serve to bring out the best in people, and I was so happy to see this in the people I was fortunate to work with during my short deployment. God bless SVdP-DSC for facilitating the P-RACs, and also the volunteers, and the survivors all of whom came with stories of significant challenge.  May the recovery for South Louisiana be swift.”

Disaster Services is so grateful for all the support that Vincentians across the nation have provided to assist us with providing disaster recovery programs like the P-RACs. If you would like to volunteer at a Parish Recovery Assistance Center during a future disaster event, please go to www.svdpdisaster.org and click on the “Volunteer” button.

 

 

A Letter from Our Servant Leaders

A Letter from Our Servant Leaders 1367 1520 SVDP USA

Fires destroying communities in the western United States, hurricanes pounding our southeastern shores, and floods and tornados taking a toll throughout our country regularly make headlines for a few days. Those newsflashes are then quickly replaced by the next tragic story. The recovery process and the suffering, however, stretch over many years. Our Society’s network of charity is active in helping neighbors in need in many communities challenged by disaster. Long after the cameras are gone, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul will still be there helping.

Our Society has always shared resources within our network when disasters strike. In a few weeks you will be receiving a solicitation to provide financial support for our disaster efforts both domestic and international. Why this general campaign for disaster funding? Raising money once a big disaster strikes may have a greater appeal but tends to create a strategic problem. We may receive a tremendous response to the first hurricane of the season, but funds designated specifically for relief from that disaster are then not available to address future storms that may create even greater need. Having the funds in advance lets us respond more quickly to immediate needs and also allows us to help our Councils with the many disasters that never make national headlines.

The solicitation you’ll see soon will be a joint appeal from the National Council and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Service Corporation (DSC). The DSC works closely with the National Council and local Councils and Conferences to provide needed financial aid, training, and outside Vincentian volunteers when local resources are inadequate to meet the need. That is frequently the case. We are very proud of the work done by the DSC. In May the Disaster Services Corporation SVdP-USA was named “Member of the Year” for 2021 by the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). When you give to our campaign, you can be assured that your contributions will be carefully distributed and monitored by a highly qualified and respected organization.

This appeal also includes a commitment to helping our brother and sister Vincentians throughout the world. Our network of charity extends to more than 150 other countries, most of which struggle financially to provide even simple forms of charity. When disasters occur, Councils in these nations look to those of us in countries that have the ability to help.

We have all heard news stories of nonprofit organizations mismanaging funds for big international disasters. When we give to our own international Councils, there are mechanisms in place for accountability through the Commission for International Aid and Development (CIAD), including requirements of U.S. Homeland Security. Bill Brassier, our Midwest Region Vice President, and I are members of this commission.

As is the case with domestic funding, it is preferable to have funds given without being designated to a particular disaster. Sometimes, we need to respond immediately to situations that never make the news. At other times, our members in an area that receives major attention lack the capacity to organize major projects to use the funds that are generated. Our international process works best when the receiving country makes an application for assistance with our office in Paris. That application will outline how the funds are to be used and will require ongoing reporting.

Vincentians in the United States are very generous in supporting the activity of our brothers and sisters who volunteer to aid those who suffer the terrible impact of disasters. During my presidential term, we have collected an average of about $1.25 million a year, with 75 percent of that being used in the United States and 25 percent to providing assistance internationally. Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been one large disaster of an unusual nature. The pandemic has put an even greater strain on our members when they face the many other forms of disaster that confront us every year. Look for more information to arrive in the weeks to come, and please help us continue to support this important work of responding to the need and suffering disasters cause.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
SVdP National President

DSC House in a Box

House in a Box Program Provides Home Essentials for Michigan Flood Survivors

House in a Box Program Provides Home Essentials for Michigan Flood Survivors 2560 1921 SVDP USA

While the media focuses on the winter-weather disasters that recently impacted Texas and other Southern states, neighbors to the north are still recovering from a different disaster that hit one community almost a year ago. A historic 500-year flood that swept through Midland County, Michigan in May 2020 left thousands facing hardship. But thanks to a partnership between the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group, United Way of Midland County and the Disaster Services Corporation, flood survivors can receive home essentials in an efficient “one-stop shop” way as they work to rebuild their lives.

House in a Box

Organized and led by the Disaster Services Corporation – Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA, the House in a Box Program™ (HIB) provides necessary home items for disaster survivors, all in one kit. One package includes the following brand-new items:

  • Beds
  • Linens
  • Dishes
  • Pots and pans
  • Dressers
  • Silverware
  • Bathroom setup
  • Dinette
  • Couch

“The goal of the program is to provide new household items for families who have lost everything due to a disaster — like the flood that Midland County experienced — and who are forced into situational poverty because of such events,” said Kevin Peach, COO, Disaster Services Corporation.  “House in a Box gives dignity to families in crisis as it gives them a new and fresh start.”

Midland County’s Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group — a cross-sector group of individuals from a variety of organizations and agencies working together to help the community recover from the flood — helped spearhead the efforts to bring HIB to Midland County.

“After the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group reviewed the program and met with SVDP-USA Disaster Services representatives, we found a perfect match between what this well-established program offers and the needs of individuals and families who suffered catastrophic loss in the Midland County flooding,” said Rev. Matthew W. Schramm, Long Term Disaster Recovery Group member and senior pastor/head of staff at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Midland. “Being able to receive these building blocks of a home in one place is convenient. For those who have experienced such upheaval, convenience is a blessing.”

As part of the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group, United Way of Midland County helped provide financial support, as well as logistical and volunteer coordination for distribution of the household items. On February 23, volunteers from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the United Way gathered at the warehouse to assemble and organize the HIB materials for distribution.

Says Peach, “It really is a holistic approach to try to get everything (disaster victims) could possibly need.”

Disaster Services Corporation

The Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) is a Catholic lay organization that helps people in situational poverty brought about by natural and manmade disasters get their lives back in order. It is a sister company to the National Council of the United States, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which has provided disaster relief since its founding in France in 1833.

How Does the HIB Selection Process Work?

“Families are reviewed and referred to the program through a Disaster Case Management process that ensures that there is no duplication of benefits,” according to Peach. “DSC buys furniture and furnishings in volume through pre-screened vendors so that it can provide a starter household furniture kit at a greatly reduced price.”

All families receive the same new items which are packaged for efficiency of delivery. The program is scalable to the size of the family and starts at $3,200 for a family of four. United Way is utilizing funds from their Rise Together fund to purchase the kits at a discounted rate, saving over $58,000, versus paying for these new household items individually.

Midland Flooding

You may not have heard of the flooding in Midland, but its impact on local residents was devastating. Over 10,000 people fled their homes because of the Midland County flood, which resulted in over $200 million in damages to more than 2,500 buildings.

“Rebuilding after a disaster is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Bre Sklar. “It does not happen overnight. But through the generosity of organizations and programs like House in a Box™, our community members can get access to much-needed resources to pick up the pieces of their lives.”

For more information on the Disaster Services Corporation – Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA, including how to donate to help disaster survivors, visit their website.

Disaster Services Corporation

Winter Storm Update From Disaster Services Corporation

Winter Storm Update From Disaster Services Corporation 2000 1600 SVDP USA

The Disaster Services Corporation, St Vincent de Paul USA (DSC, SVdP-USA) is providing support to Councils and Conferences in the areas impacted by Winter Storms Uri and Viola. DSC is working closely with the State of Texas and Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). Additionally, we are working in coordination with the National SVdP Office to provide Rapid Response Grants to cover the costs of rent, food, pipe repairs, hotel stays, etc. Lastly, DSC, SVdP-USA is also monitoring and supporting Vincentians in Oklahoma and Louisiana. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families without water and power.

To help support the work of DSC in this winter storm season, visit Disaster Services Corp., St Vincent de Paul-USA  and choose “Where It Is Needed Most.”

Here’s What You Need to Know

  • As power begins to return, many Texans are now without drinking water.
  • Most power is back, but 500,000 Texas homes and businesses are still in the dark.
  • The latest storm is knocking out power in Mississippi, Kentucky, and elsewhere.
  • Several inches of snow are expected in the New York area, as vaccine shipments are delayed.
  • 31 people have died across the country due to the winter storms.

Recap From the News

The winter storms and colder weather may persist in the Great Plains and Mississippi Valley through midweek, and a new winter storm is expected to sweep across the South and East over the next two days. More than 100 million Americans are under some type of winter weather warning.

As Texas struggles to restore power to millions of residents affected by the brutal winter weather, officials are now scrambling to provide clean water as well. Cities and counties across the state, including Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, have issued boil water notices stemming from concerns about contamination and low water pressure as frigid temperatures freeze pipes, leaving some households with little to no running water.

As of Wednesday, nearly seven million Texans were under a boil water advisory, and about 263,000 people were affected by nonfunctioning water providers, Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said at a news conference. During a news conference on Wednesday, W. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said facilities were reporting broken water mains, lack of running water, oxygen shortages and other problems.

Texas wasn’t the only state contending with power issues. Other states where outages numbered in the tens of thousands included Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio and Oregon, according to poweroutage.us, a utility tracking site.

While some facilities can provide heat during the blackouts, others are relying completely on generators and cannot provide any heat. With another storm on its way to Texas, temperatures are expected to remain below freezing until Saturday.

Winter’s brutal assault continued Wednesday night as another snowstorm roared its way across the nation through the end of the week, hitting areas where millions were already without electricity in record-breaking cold.

More than 100 million Americans are in the path of the storm as it tracks from the southern Plains to the East Coast over the next few days, the National Weather Service said. But the nation’s heartland will get some relief over the weekend, the weather service reported, as the frigid air will begin to moderate over the next couple days.

But first, much of Texas and the Southeast will have to endure heavy snowfall and “ice accumulations of a light glaze to a few hundredths of an inch” through Thursday. Heavy snow is forecast to move work its way as far north as southern New England on Thursday.

The next winter storm will bring more snow and ice and “just a real mess” to many areas of the country, including the South, Midwest and Northeast, AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. As the storm advances to the northeast through Friday, snow is forecast to fall along a 2,000-mile-long swath from northwestern and north-central Texas to northern Maine, AccuWeather said. Freezing rain and sleet will occur to the south and east of the snow zone, extending from central Texas to southeastern New York state.

Ice accumulations of a quarter to as much as three-quarters of an inch are forecast in some areas. “In the areas that contend with these devastating ice accumulations, residents can expect dangerous travel conditions, numerous power outages and extensive tree damage,” the weather service said.

FEMA Update Region VI – TX

  • 15 non-American Red Cross shelters open with 1,068 occupants
  • 34 congregate shelters open with 1,140 occupants
  • 10 non-congregate; 134 warming shelters open
  • Total of 200 warming shelters throughout the state: www.tedem.texas.gov/warm/
  • Boil Water Notices in effect for 40 counties; boil water notices are not for the entire county, only certain public water systems within these counties
  • 729k liters of water, 10.9k wool blankets, 50k cotton blankets, 225k meals staged at DC Fort Worth (TX Consolidated Staging Area)
  • 1 million (-2 million) customers (9%) without power
  • Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) energy conservation plan continues with rotating outages due to high demand exceeding available generation capacity generation resources are strained due to cold weather tripping units, natural gas supply curtailments, and wind power generation outage
  • I-35W in Fort Worth remains closed causing detours and traffic delays
  • TX EOC at Partial Activation (COVID), working 24/7 operations this week for winter weather; Governor declared a state of emergency and requested an Emergency Declaration; approved Feb 14

Who to Follow

What to Download

Stay informed: Download the FEMA App to receive real-time weather alerts, safety tips, and sheltering information.

How to Help

Donate to support Disaster Services Corp., St Vincent de Paul-USA  and choose “Where It Is Needed Most.”

 

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