|High winds in Jackson, Miss. toppled trees and destroyed this house's roof.|
Christian Children’s Fund emergency teams are working with CCF staff and local affiliates in Mississippi to assist local families impacted by Hurricane Katrina and to help evacuees in their transition to the area.
In addition, one CCF team is working in Tahlequah, Okla. to foster tolerance-building techniques in an effort to prevent problems and address tensions that may arise as more and more evacuees come into the community.
Some of CCF’s services include:
- Working through affiliates to assist local residents and evacuees. Area affiliates include: Operation Shoestring in Jackson, Brickfire in Starkville, We Care Community Services in Vicksburg and North Delta Youth Development in Whitman County;
- Establishing free, mini-laundromat facilities at affiliate offices so evacuees will have a place to wash their clothes;
- Distributing UNICEF school supply and recreational kits for 10,000 children and incorporating their use in local affiliates’ after school programs and Early Childhood Development preschool programs;
- Providing psychosocial support to evacuees and local residents to help them cope with their personal losses, displacement and loss of family members;
- Shoring up food banks at Operation Shoestring, North Delta Youth Development, and We Care. The food will be used to support evacuee families as well as local host families who have run out of food because of power outages and have lost wages. (While many people relied on Meals on Wheels immediately following the storm, within days they had to turn to local food banks operated by CCF affiliates such as Operation Shoestring.)
- Expanding after school programs at local affiliates to accommodate displaced children.
“What people don’t realize is that central Mississippi has been greatly impacted by Katrina," explained Veronica Templeton, director of U.S. Programs for CCF. "And the way the system works, families cannot get FEMA assistance unless they are evacuees. Yet, many of our families that have relatives staying with them, have lost hourly jobs because of the hurricane and have run out of money and food … that’s in addition to sustaining damage to their homes and property. It’s a drastic situation for them.
“The evacuees also have needs that may not be readily apparent at first glance. For instance, families are coming in after having to spend their precious little cash on laundry. And so we are setting up washers and dryers in available spaces in our affiliate centers."
CCF is assessing the needs of local families by conducting house-to-house surveys, phone surveys and talking with people coming into local CCF offices in Mississippi. In addition, CCF has conducted focus groups with young people to hear from them how the hurricane has impacted their lives.
“The assessments we are doing now in Mississippi are to determine the gaps in services especially to local folks who aren’t being served by FEMA and other national organizations," Templeton said. "Once we determine those gaps, CCF will design long-term programs to help Mississippians get back on track and recover from their losses."