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Volume 8, No. 3WINTER 2005

Extraordinary need met with record
response in United States

Basketball star and humanitarian Vlade Divac loads a truck in
Sacramento, Calif., destined for hurricane survivors from New Orleans
now living in Houston, Texas. Divac personally drove the relief supplies
from California to Texas to an IOCC hurricane response center.

Photo: Vlade Divac Foundation

Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — With support through the generosity of Orthodox Christians, IOCC mounted its largest disaster response initiative ever in the United States, delivering more than $4 million in emergency relief assistance (see box page 5). The most destructive hurricane season on record in the USA claimed more than one thousand lives, made more than one million people homeless and caused an unprecedented level of damage.

The IOCC response took the form of direct assistance to Orthodox parishes and communities impacted by the storms, direct assistance through ecumenical networks to the affected population at large, and the provision of services and supplies in some of the most critically affected areas.

“This has been a truly inspiring effort made possible by the cooperation of so many partners in our work,” said Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC executive director. “The support of the SCOBA hierarchs, the clergy and their parishes, Orthodox and ecumenical partners and the dedication and determination of the IOCC board, staff and volunteers has been remarkable.”

Each of the nine SCOBA jurisdictions has provided support to IOCC for the hurricane response efforts.

As part of its response in the immediate aftermath of the disasters, IOCC also provided assistance to Orthodox Christians directly affected by the hurricanes. An Orthodox parish/parishioner emergency assistance program provided funds for families who were seriously or moderately affected by the disasters.

The relief effort was made possible through the support and participation of Orthodox Christians from across the country who contributed health kits and volunteered directly in the Gulf Coast. IOCC board member Leonidas Kapetanakis took leave from his business for nearly two months to deliver supplies and assist in coordinating the effort, while St. George Orthodox Church in Houston gave IOCC use of their facilities to set up a coordination center.

IOCC’s initial emergency focus has now shifted to a recovery and rehabilitation period, according to Frank Carlin, IOCC field director for operations in the hurricane-affected areas. This recovery phase of the response will carry-on for a further six to nine months depending on the resources to implement such programs, he said.

“Were it not for the high quality of our emergency response, this $4 million figure alone would not be impressive,” said Carlin.

“We have proven ourselves to be an effective and efficient link between resources and needs. Our church and parish leaders and the faithful supporters who gave so freely and contributed their resources of both time and money have enabled us to do what often looked impossible in the face of such massive and immediate needs.”

IOCC’s Hurricane Response

Since the onset of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, more than $4 million in emergency assistance will have been provided to vulnerable families and individuals affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast.

IOCC emergency assistance in response to the hurricanes includes:

  • Provision of more than $150,000 in essential, unmet emergency needs, such as essential food items, sanitary and cleaning supplies, relocation assistance, and emergency grants to evacuees;
  • Distribution of $2.5 million in emergency relief items, such as health and children’s school kits, new hand-made quilts, household emergency cleaning kits, multi-vitamins, food, water, blankets and bed linens, diapers, personal health kits, and mattresses;
  • A $430,000 Orthodox parish / parishioner assistance program to assist seriously affected Orthodox families with immediate emergency support for family needs arising as a result of the losses they experienced due to the disasters;
  • Medical assistance, valued at more than $855,000, including a mobile medical clinic provided by Mission of Mercy;
  • More than $75,000 for the equipping of churches and aid distribution networks, including the provision of chainsaws, power washers, clean-up and storage equipment to parishes and local organizations for use in the clean-up and recovery efforts by the local community.

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