Seattle, September 1, 2008
—As Hurricane Gustav lashes Louisiana and the Gulf Coast today, World Vision’s relief teams have begun helping families who have evacuated to Dallas and Jackson, Mississippi. The Christian humanitarian agency will be distributing immediate essentials like diapers; clothing for babies, children and adults; shampoo, soap and deodorant; toilet paper, napkins and paper plates; and simple children’s toys together with local church and community partners who are housing evacuees from Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
“Items for children and babies are always the most in need,” said Phyllis Freeman, a veteran of World Vision’s Hurricane Katrina response and currently in Dallas leading the agency’s Gustav field team. “But they’re sometimes hard to get, and run out quickly, during the initial days of an emergency. So we’re trying to offer families with children the things they need most.”
The Christian relief and development agency is contacting and coordinating with hundreds of its local church, school and community partners, with a special focus on those within 100 miles of the coast. Many have already been working with World Vision in the ongoing Katrina response.
The agency’s relief goods will be supplied from its Storehouses in Picayune, Mississippi, and Dallas to start. Additional truckloads of new, top-quality items are on standby and ready to be shipped from Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Denver, Seattle and elsewhere, depending on the extent of the storm’s damage.
“Just like we saw in Katrina, it’s the faith community that is on the frontlines of helping Gustav’s survivors—especially children and families who don’t have a financial cushion during evacuation,” explained John Pettit, director of World Vision’s domestic disaster response.
“World Vision will be working alongside these churches and local groups and making sure they and their volunteers have the relief supplies, expertise and funds they need—first as they host evacuees, and later as they help these families return home and rebuild their lives,” said Pettit.
Some 12,000 churches across the United States partner with and support World Vision’s relief and development work around the world. Since Hurricane Katrina, some 350 churches, schools and faith-based and community-based organizations in Mississippi and Louisiana have partnered with the agency to help their communities recover from that historic storm. Additional partners have also worked with World Vision in Texas and other states.
“It’s heartbreaking to see people who haven’t been able to afford to finish repairing their homes face another massive storm,” said Audrey Black, general manager of World Vision’s Storehouse in Picayune, Mississippi. “People are still living in temporary trailer parks in this area, and there isn’t a sense of normalcy yet. Now families are going through the experience again.”
Black herself evacuated from Picayune to Jackson, Mississippi, yesterday. To ensure staff safety, World Vision’s Picayune Storehouse will remain closed until Gustav passes.
“Many of our partner churches in Mississippi and Louisiana have evacuated themselves, but they’ve already told us that as soon as they can return, they want to work with World Vision to make sure their church has what they need to house and feed families who start coming back,” said Black.
The public can help by calling 1.888.56.CHILD or visiting www.worldvision.org
. Corporations interested in donating quality, new products should call 206.355.3598.
ENDWorld Vision experts are available for interviews. 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.