Seattle, August 29, 2008
—As Hurricane Gustav approaches the United States Gulf Coast, Christian relief and development agency World Vision has readied emergency supplies in Picayune, Mississippi, with several truckloads of additional goods on standby in Dallas, Los Angeles and other U.S. locations.
“We’re making the most of this early warning time to prepare,” said John Pettit, director of World Vision’s domestic disaster response. “Our staff in Mississippi and Texas have been contacting dozens of churches and community groups that we’ve partnered with since Katrina to let them know we want to stand by them for Gustav and help them serve the most vulnerable in their communities.”
The organization’s domestic disaster response teams are also on full alert today, with expert staff prepared to deploy from around the country early next week should Hurricane Gustav prove destructive. World Vision continues to have a small team based in Mississippi as part of its ongoing Katrina response.
“We’re in full preparation mode here,” said Audrey Black, manager of World Vision’s Storehouse in Picayune, Mississippi, some 50 miles from New Orleans. “We have been seeing long lines at gas stations and stores as people stock up on necessities—but not everyone can afford to stock up. World Vision’s priority is to make sure we’re ready to help the region’s low-income and forgotten populations.”
World Vision, which serves children and families in need both in the U.S. and in some 100 countries worldwide, responded to Hurricane Katrina by distributing $10.2 million worth of donated goods and $6.1 million in grants to local churches and organizations helping struggling and vulnerable families recover and rebuild.
Based on the storm’s path and the need in affected areas, the agency is ready to ship several truckloads of drinking water, bedding, personal hygiene items, children’s and adults’ clothing and toys from its Storehouses in Dallas and Los Angeles, along with cleaning supplies, face mask filters, vinyl gloves, shovels and tools, and building materials for the clean-up and recovery phase. The supplies, donated by World Vision’s corporate partners, including Unilever and Lagasse, would be distributed through partner organizations to families in need.
“We’re hoping and praying that Gustav spares the Gulf Coast—but we know from experience that we have to be ready for a worst-case scenario,” explained Pettit, whose team has been actively coordinating with regional authorities and other members of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) in preparation for the storm’s landfall.
Pettit cautioned that low-income families who evacuate could face additional challenges as the school year starts: “We learned from Katrina; too many impoverished communities simply fall through the cracks,” he said, “For example, children will need school supplies and help in enrolling in a new location if their families evacuate for any significant length of time.”
World Vision has been warning for weeks that its school supply donations are not keeping pace with increased demand this year, as a weak U.S. economy makes back-to-school shopping a luxury for many struggling families.
The public can help World Vision prepare for Hurricane Gustav and other disasters in the United States by contributing to its American Families Assistance Fund at 1.888.56.CHILD or www.worldvision.org
. Corporations interested in donating quality, new products should call 206.355.3598.
ENDWorld Vision experts are available for interviews in Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Mississippi. Please contact Rachel Wolff at 253.394.2214 or Rwolff@worldvision.org.
About World Vision’s Storehouse
World Vision’s Storehouse helps meet the basic needs of children and families and revitalize neighborhoods by providing donated, high-quality goods such as personal care items, clothing, building materials and school supplies. The Storehouse provides these items to local partners, helping to strengthen community connections to churches and social institutions and to provide goods to those most in need. World Vision operates Storehouses in 11 cities throughout the United States. For more information about World Vision’s work in the U.S., visit www.worldvision.org/press
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org/press.