Catholic Charities USA Releases Data on National Disaster Services

Dec 03, 2010, 13:19 ET from Catholic Charities USA

Underscores need for greater emphasis on preparedness

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 3, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Catholic Charities USA, one of the largest social service networks in the United States, today marked the end of the 2010 hurricane season by reporting data on disaster preparedness and response services provided by its member agencies and affiliates over the past three years.

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Since 2007, Catholic Charities USA Disaster Operations has supported 152 disasters nationwide (40 in 2010) – tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, ice storms, and most recently the 2010 Gulf Coast Oil Spill. Services range from disaster relief funding to on-the-ground technical support, mitigation, and coalition-building with faith-based and government responders. Catholic Charities USA has dispersed a total of 271 Disaster Relief Grants equaling $73 million to local Catholic Charities agencies, providing emergency services to more than 1 million people in need regardless of race, religion, or socio-economic status.

In addition to disaster response, Catholic Charities USA continues to place a significant emphasis on disaster preparedness. To date, over half of its member agencies have received disaster preparedness training – including a bi-annual 3-day preparedness program at Catholic Charities USA's national office and an ongoing series of online trainings. This week, Catholic Charities USA hosts 33 representatives from Catholic Charities agencies across the country to its on-site training. Graduates of previous training sessions now share their learned expertise as instructors.

As Catholic Charities USA celebrated its Centennial this year, it also marked another significant event, the 5-year anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita which positioned Catholic Charities USA at the forefront of disaster response. With over $160 million raised, it was the largest coordinated disaster response effort in Catholic Charities USA's history.

"Hurricane Katrina was a pivotal turning point for Catholic Charities USA," stated Kim Burgo, Vice President of Disaster Operations for Catholic Charities USA. "It brought national attention to the work of local agencies who serve individuals day in and day out in times of disaster and peace. It raised awareness of the deep, troubling connection between poverty and disaster and underscored the need to place a greater emphasis on disaster preparedness as we continue our work to reduce poverty in America."

Following its well-documented provision of disaster services in the aftermath of Katrina and Gustav and Ike, in 2009 Catholic Charities USA was selected by the government to provide disaster case management nationwide – the first-ever Federal contract for the human service organization.

Catholic Charities USA was founded in 1910 "to bring about a sense of solidarity" among those in charitable ministries. In 1990, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned Catholic Charities USA to respond to disasters in the United States. For more information about Catholic Charities USA Disaster Operations, visit http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/disaster.

Catholic Charities USA's members provide help and create hope for more than 9 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. For almost 300 years, Catholic Charities agencies have worked to reduce poverty by providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from health care and job training to food and housing. In 2010, Catholic Charities USA celebrates its centennial anniversary. For more information, http://www.CatholicCharitiesUSA.org.

SOURCE Catholic Charities USA