Catholic Charities is appealing for help for families in southern states after a series of devastating storms killed over 300 people.
Tornadoes have “ripped out entire communities” in the past few days, Catholic Charities disaster operations head Kim Burgo told CNA. “Our agencies are working very hard to provide immediate basic needs – food, water, clothing.”
Burgo explained that within the last two weeks, storms started in the midwest “and just moved across the country as we all watched it.”
“Immediately hit was of course, all of Arkansas and then moving over through Tennessee and Mississippi on to Alabama and then Georgia,” she said, “so we're looking at a number of catholic charities affected in these areas.”
Burgo said that at this point, general assessments of the damage are still taking place in some of the most recently hit regions.
“As search and rescue happens, agencies such as Catholic Charities and Red Cross and others are not really allowed into an area until search and rescue is finished,” she said, adding, however, that the organizations have started assistance in places where search and rescue has already been completed.
Burgo said that in addition to helping fulfill basic needs, Catholic Charities is working to provide counseling, temporary shelters and things such as large containers “so that when family members do go back to their residence that they're able to salvage whatever is left of their property and store it in a secure place.”
Appealing to the nation's faithful, Burgo said that “right now, monetary contributions are what's most needed.”
“We haven't been able to determine what kind of material donations are needed in that arena yet so for right now, what is needed is cash.”
Burgo noted that others have been impacted by the storms beyond the areas that have been directly hit.
“We heard reports this morning that in one area, there were three large employers whose plants were completely destroyed and so now there's about a thousand people out of work.”
The storms have had “a lot of repercussions – a person may not have not have had their home destroyed but their job may no longer be available.”
Burgo said the Catholic Charities has been able “to link up with local businesses to purchase supplies,” which “helps to keep the local economy going as many businesses were effected by this.”
“Having these cash donations,” she emphasized, “helps to provide food and helps to provide vouchers so that families can get the supplies they need.”
Burgo said that those wishing to contribute to the families impacted by the recent catastrophe should visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.