Catholic Charities USA sends long-term aid to Florida hurricane victims

.- Catholic Charities USA has sent a $392,000 grant to Catholic Charities of Venice in Florida to support the agency's long-term hurricane recovery efforts, which will include temporary and permanent housing, mental health counseling, financial counseling, job placement and outreach to migrant farm workers.

Hurricane Charley devastated the 10-county area served by Catholic Charities of Venice in August.  Many homes and business were destroyed and about 50,000 families were displaced. About 60 percent of the residents lost their homes in Desoto and Hardee Counties alone.

Catholic Charities USA sent the agency $20,000 in emergency grants several weeks ago to help meet immediate and basic needs. Recovery efforts have been hampered by hits from Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. The new sum is earmarked for reconstruction and long-term needs.

"This is going to be a long sustained recovery process. It could take possibly two years or more because so many buildings, homes, and crops were devastated," said Peter Routsis-Arroyo, president of Catholic Charities of Venice. "We need to get people back into their homes, back to work, and feeling secure and safe again."

The migrant farm workers have been the hardest hit community, said Routsis-Arroyo. Many live in dilapidated homes that were quickly destroyed in the hurricane and most barely get by financially on their wages. "The migrant farm workers will not only need new, safe, and affordable housing, they will need new jobs," he said.

To date, Catholic Charities USA has sent a total of $502,000 in aid to 10 local Catholic Charities agencies in the wake of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. It anticipates providing more agencies with emergency relief and long-term recovery grants.

Monies in the Catholic Charities USA's 2004 Summer Hurricane Fund came from donations across the country. Contributions to the fund can be made at www.catholiccharitiesinfo.org.

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