IOCC Emergency Personnel Prepare for Hurricane Rita

Baltimore, MD (September 22, 2005) — Three weeks after responding to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina along the U.S. Gulf Coast, IOCC Emergency Response personnel have begun preparations in Texas in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Rita.

Efforts have been underway since Tuesday to position supplies in the areas projected to be most impacted by the looming storm. Orthodox parishes are being readied in Houston and further inland to receive relief shipments and evacuees.

Even as preparations for the next hurricane got underway, IOCC efforts continued in Mississippi and Louisiana.

In previously affected areas of the Gulf Coast, IOCC recently rotated staff who had arrived shortly after the initial disaster. IOCC maintains a presence in Mobile, Ala., Biloxi, Miss., Baton Rouge, La. and Houston, Texas.

The scope of the disaster and the ongoing recovery efforts have prompted IOCC to bring in experienced relief personnel from its offices overseas. IOCC head of office for the Republic of Georgia, Pascalis Papouras, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, arrived Monday from that country to assist in the response.

Papouras traveled to Biloxi, Miss. today where he will be briefed by Fr. David Kossey, the head of the IOCC Emergency Response Network, who has led the effort in that city for the past two weeks.

“We are continually moving to respond to the needs as they emerge,” said Frank Carlin, the Field Director for IOCC’s operations in the Gulf Coast region. “This is a fluid situation with rapidly changing needs.”

“The best way to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina is through cash gifts and assembling health kits,” added Carlin. “This gives us the flexibility to act quickly to needs as they arise and will help the communities as we begin planning for the long-term recovery.”

Contributions toward hurricane relief efforts received in recent weeks have enabled IOCC to respond is such ways as distributing more than 18,000 “Gift of the Heart” health kits, providing 1,500 household clean-up kits to people returning to damaged homes, and supplying over 150 tons of emergency assistance, including food, water, blankets and bed linens, diapers, personal health kits and mattresses.

The address and instructions on how to assemble health kits may be found on IOCC’s website at www.iocc.org/healthkits. The kits should be sent to IOCC at the Church World Service warehouse in New Windsor, Md.

Contributions to IOCC’s Hurricane Disaster Response Fund, which will be used to assist people who have been affected by hurricanes in the United States, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, may be sent to IOCC, “Hurricane Relief,” P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, MD 21263-0225. Donations may also be made online at www.iocc.org or by calling toll-free 1-877-803-IOCC (4622).

IOCC’s emergency response network, comprised of trained Orthodox clergy and their U.S. parish communities, provides emergency services to people struggling to recover from natural or man-made disasters.

Founded in 1992, IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA).

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