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Donations Helping Families Recover from Tornadoes

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To date, the Diocese of Raleigh has received $59,564 from 23 parishes and missions in response to the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge’s request for a special collection to aid the survivors of the tornadoes that impacted portions of the Diocese on April 16, 2011. The Diocese also received a gift of $7,000 from the Diocese of Charleston and $10,000 from Catholic Charities USA. In addition, Catholic Charities in the Diocese received an additional $40,000 in donations for a total of $116,000 at this time.

Catholic Charities regional offices in the affected areas have been working to provide food and clothing to victims as well as other assistance. In Wake County, Catholic Charities distributed food from the Catholic Parish Outreach truck on the site of the Stony Brook Mobile Home Park that sustained heavy damage and the loss of four young lives. Catholic Charities staff and volunteers visited families in shelters and completed intake reviews and helped families apply for FEMA benefits. Several families were helped who needed financial assistance to get into regular housing. Catholic Charities is now contacting families who are ineligible for FEMA or insurance benefits.

In Bertie County, for the first two weeks, Catholic Charities went house to house daily to reach out to 90 families who homes were destroyed or damaged and provided counseling to those who lost loved ones or homes. Each day they debriefed 13 first responders. Catholic Charities is working with FEMA in Albemarle Deanery and assessing unmet needs. Food cards have been issued as other food distribution stations have been closed in the local communities.

In Cumberland County, Catholic Charities has been working with other churches and agencies to serve families seeking food, utility assistance, and replacement of medications or glasses lost in the tornadoes. Catholic Charities is also working with families in need of housing and employment.

Donations have helped Catholic Charities provide funds to assist with funeral costs of the four children. It also is providing for support for Stony Brook residents in need of assistance with expenses, such as security deposits and first month’s rent for those without other resources, short-term motel housing for several families, and food cards. So far, Catholic Charities has served 250 families in tornado relief efforts.

On May 16, Ms. Roberta McCauley, Catholic Charities’ Coordinator of Faith Communities Support Circle Program, spoke at a training workshop for parishes and other Christian denominations interested in adopting a family to help it through this traumatic time. The Support Circles Program, which received a national award in 2009, was created in 2005, as survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were brought into the area for temporary resettlement. Since then, the program has blossomed into an effective community outreach program involving churches throughout the Triangle.

Above: Ms. Roberta McCauley, Coordinator of Faith Communities Support Circle Program, providing information to representatives of churches interested in helping families impacted by the tornadoes.