July 22, 2014

CWS Holding Flood Long-Term Recovery Workshops July 23 and 24 in Florida Panhandle

Local disaster long-term recovery leaders who will be guiding their communities through the process of recovering from spring floods in Florida’s panhandle will gather July 23 in Tallahassee and 24 in Milton, Fla., for training in needs assessment, disaster case management, volunteer and construction management, volunteer hosting, and emotional and spiritual care.

Church World Service, along with several other national disaster relief organizations and Florida state partners, are organizing the free “Recovery Tools and Training” events. 

Partners with CWS in providing the training are Florida VOAD, Volunteer Florida, Florida Division of Emergency Management, Lutheran Disaster Response, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, United Methodist Committee on Relief and World Renew.

"Our job is to make sure everyone has a chance to recover, regardless of their means,” said Sandra Kennedy-Owes, a CWS emergency response specialist based in Mobile, Ala., among workshop presenters.  She said the training “seeks to strengthen community-based long-term recovery committees as they help rebuild homes and lives.”

Thousands of Floridians continue to struggle to recover from flood damage suffered this spring due to heavy rainfall - as much as 25 inches in 36 hours in some areas.  They will need help from their local communities and beyond, including material donations and volunteer labor, to be able to reach a “new normal” in safe homes. 

"Disasters are too quickly forgotten,” said Kathy Broyard, Executive Director and Emergency Management Specialist for the Florida Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Network based in Gainesville.  She also chairs the Florida Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Florida VOAD). 

“The heavy rains that drenched the Florida panhandle on April 30 caused damaged to more than 14,500 homes,” Broyard said.  “Many were destroyed.  Families that do not have the financial means to rebuild on their own must rely on help from the voluntary organizations that come together and collaborate for the long-term recovery that will need to take place over the next two to three years.  The Recovery Tools and Training workshops are to assist the local community in organizing for this long-term recovery and the rebuilding of homes and community.”

Homes that suffered flooding might look fine from the outside, but inside there is structural damage and mold, said Merrilee White, Director of Emergency Management and Volunteer Services of Volunteer Florida, based in Tallahassee.  She said householders are struggling to replace lost furniture and appliances.  Many won’t have adequate personal resources to replace, repair and rebuild.  And chances are they lack flood insurance and won’t get enough federal assistance to recover.

Escambia, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties received federal disaster declarations.

“Recovery Tools and Training” is a program of the humanitarian agency Church World Service, and has been used across the country to assist local communities in their community-based long-term recovery efforts. 

CWS, an ecumenical agency with 37 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member communions, is a close working partner in the United States with the American Red Cross, National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and FEMA in helping people put their lives back together after a disaster.  The agency also is known for its work to combat hunger and poverty, including the CROP Hunger Walk; its U.S. refugee resettlement work, and its international humanitarian assistance program.

CWS Media Contacts:

Carol Fouke-Mpoyo, 212-870-2728 / 646-258-8896, cfoukempoyo@cwsglobal.org

Lesley Crosson,212-870-2676, media@cwsglobal.org