After the initial emergency responses to floods which devastated the midwest states of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana, recently, Catholic Charities USA are moving to help with long-term recovery. "We will be there for the long haul," said Kim Burgo, senior director of Catholic Charities USA's Office of Disaster Response. "Our work focuses on rebuilding lives and communities." With the assistance of a team from CCUSA's Office of Disaster Response, Catholic Charities agencies in the impacted areas continue to assess the extent of the damage and work with other disaster relief organizations to determine how best to respond in the weeks and months ahead. Much of the agencies' focus will be on addressing flood victims emotional needs by providing free crisis and mental health counseling. "The damage and uncertainty brought on by the devastating floods have taken a psychological toll," said Burgo. "And, as we know from past disasters, there is often a delayed reaction. The need for counseling will only grow as the impact really starts to set in." Drawing on experiences with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Catholic Charities plans are underway to train and deploy volunteer coordinators and crews to help with the cleaning up and gutting of damaged homes in the hard-hit areas of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana. "Following the hurricanes in 2005, many volunteers from the affected areas went down to Mississippi and Louisiana to help people rebuild," said Burgo. "Now they are taking that expertise to help out their own neighbors in their time of crisis." For Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of New Orleans it was their chance to give back as well, by sending their director of emergency management to assist Catholic Charities of Dubuque in creating volunteer response programs in parishes in the area that will coordinate the clean up and gutting of homes or provide case management. Over the next couple of months, case managers will also work with individuals and families to help them determine needs and develop personal recovery plans. "Long-term recovery often does not make the headlines or the TV news, but is an essential part of the healing process," said Burgo. "We urge all people of good will to support the flood victims in their time of need."
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