Domestic Disaster Response & Preparedness
Photo: Craig Thompson, Disciple Design
Hurricanes Sally and Zeta, Alabama
West Coast Fires (2020)
Hurricanes Laura and Delta, Louisiana*
Tropical Storm Imelda, Texas
Tornadoes, Ohio* Hurricane Michael, Florida
Hurricane Florence, North Carolina*
Carr Fire and Camp Fire, California
Hurricanes Irma & Maria, Puerto Rico
Hurricane Irma, Florida
Hurricane Harvey, Texas
*limited volunteer opportunities available, with COVID-19 precautions
Hurricane Michael intensified rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall along the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 storm on Oct. 10, 2018. The most severe damage occurred in 12 counties in the panhandle, but high winds and heavy rain resulted in downed trees, structural damage, and flooding across several other counties in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia.
On September 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall along the North Carolina coast, just north of the border between the Carolinas. For the next several days, the storm lingered over the region, causing catastrophic flooding, including prolonged significant river flooding. The federal disaster declaration included 34 counties, the majority of which were also in the impact zone of Hurricane Matthew just two years before.
Between July 23 and August 30, 2018, the Carr Fire burned 229,651 acres in the area in and around Redding, CA. Damage assessments estimate the fire damaged or destroyed nearly 2000 structures, including more than 1200 homes. Unusually heavy rains and even a rare heavy snowfall through the fall and winter caused additional challenges for the many people living in temporary shelter, including some still living in tents or on the streets.
Another catastrophic fire broke out in the region on Nov. 8, 2018, in Butte County. Over the next 3 weeks, the fire consumed 153,336 acres, including most of the town of Paradise, and resulting in 85 confirmed fatalities. At least 52,000 people were evacuated, and more than 14,000 homes were severely damaged or destroyed. Just weeks after the fire, heavy rains in the burn scar area caused flash flooding and mudslides, prompting additional evacuations, causing more damage, and slowing the debris removal process.
On July 19, 2018, a tornado outbreak occurred northeast of Des Moines, IA. Among the recorded tornadoes were an EF2 in Bondurant, which damaged several dozen homes, and an EF3 in Marshalltown, which damaged more than 1000 homes as well as multiple manufacturing plants and a downtown business district. Damage to the manufacturing plants in Marshalltown resulted in temporary and long-term unemployment for many residents in the area, including many who also experienced damage at their homes.
On September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall as a Category 4 storm in the Florida Keys before moving up the spine of the peninsula. Nearly 2.5 million households in Florida registered for assistance with FEMA, many of whom had also suffered damage during Hurricane Matthew just 11 months before.
In early September, 2017 Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, wreaked havoc across the Caribbean, including the US Territory of Puerto Rico. Just 2 weeks later, another Category 5 storm, Hurricane Maria made a direct hit on the main island of Puerto Rico. The two storms demolished much of the infrastructure on the island, leaving nearly the entire population without access to power or clean water. Additionally, the storms destroyed several hundred thousand homes and caused thousands of deaths.
The commonwealth has a population of nearly 3.4 million people, but for several years has been experiencing dramatic migration away from the island, due in large part to a prolonged economic crisis. The hurricanes led to a mass exodus from the island, to the US Mainland.
On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, TX. Over the next week, the storm stalled over southeast Texas, producing unprecedented rainfall and catastrophic flooding across 41 counties. Nearly 1 million households were directly affected. One year after the storm, 30% of people who were impacted by the storm reported their lives were still disrupted, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Episcopal Health Foundation, 15% of the homes damaged or destroyed by the storm were still unlivable as of the one year anniversary.