Disaster Preparedness and Response

“Many return to normal life shortly after a disaster, but the needs of the survivors linger long after the disaster strikes and Catholic Charities Atlanta plans to be with these victims for the long haul.”
— from The Georgia Bulletin

The CCA Disaster Preparedness and Response Program was born out of a response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Over 7,000 families received assistance over a five year period to help them get their lives back on track. In addition, hundreds of local families have been assisted over the past three years in response to the tornadoes and floods that ravaged parts of North Georgia. The agency provides resources and assistance for victims of disasters who are in need of rent, food, utilities and mortgage assistance due to damage caused by severe weather. (Please note that these services are dependent on funding and funding is not always available.)

  • Did you know that 48% of Americans lack emergency supplies for use in the event of a disaster?
  • More than half of parents do not have a designated meeting place in case of a disaster.

Are you prepared? Get ready today!

Catholic Charities Atlanta  would like to offer the following considerations in preparation for all types of emergency situations:

1. Emergency Response Plans:

Make sure your diocese and your local Catholic institutions (churches, schools, etc) have Emergency Response Plans in place.  These plans should include procedures for not only natural disaster events, but also encompass acts of violence. For more information on how to formulate a plan and for templates, please visit the Catholic Charities USA website or contact Sandy Thompson at 404.920.7748.

2. Awareness:

Acts of violence are extremely unpredictable. Be sure staff and volunteers (ex. Parish Ushers) are aware of what to look for – and know the difference between – a person experiencing a bad day vs. someone with violent intentions. Provide your Emergency Response Plan to these staff and volunteers and teach them what protocols to follow in these types of situations.

3. Speak Up:

Should a Catholic Charities agency, Diocesan facility or Parish encounter someone seeming to act suspiciously, please notify authorities immediately. Visit The Department of Homeland Security’s campaign “See Something, Say Something” for more information . Information is provided in English and Spanish.


Please share this information with staff in your agency and within your diocese. Don’t hesitate to contact Catholic Charities Atlanta staff should you have any questions or require additional information.

Long-term Recovery Efforts

One hundred seventy-eight Tornadoes touched down in the state of Georgia over a three-day period in April 2011. Fifteen individuals lost their lives and thousands lost their homes and livelihoods.

The 2011 tornado outbreak was the largest single-system tornado outbreak ever recorded. It was also the costliest as well as one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. Dade County was particularly hard hit with the city of Trenton, Georgia suffering 3 tornadoes all in one day.

Georgians haven’t forgotten the fear and devastation that those storms produced and Catholic Charities Atlanta (CCA) hasn’t forgotten our neighbors in those affected areas. As victims continue to rebuild their lives, CCA remains committed to your community’s long term recovery.

Our case workers are still on the ground, canvassing the hardest hit areas to provide assistance where needed. In the first months after the storm, we provided rental assistance, food cards, gas cards, and utility assistance. Eighteen months later, CCA continues to provide help to families and individuals in North Georgia. We have provided financial assistance to help your neighbors finish repairing their damaged homes and roofs. New porches have been built for handicapped victims. Kitchen cabinets and flooring have been purchased and installed. The work continues.

Your contributions help CCA continue to Provide Help and Create Hope for those affected by this catastrophic natural disaster. Any gift, large or small, will help us continue to move individuals in need toward self-sufficiency.

Driven by faith, we believe that we serve God by serving our neighbor. Though “Catholic” is in our name, we serve people of every faith and our programs and services help individuals in need in a 69 county area throughout Georgia.

“As you know, a big part of the recovery process is accomplished through referrals that enable survivors to put their lives back together and Catholic Charities Atlanta’s Disaster Response Program has played a major role in providing that service. Over and over again, I’ve heard stories of how your program staff has been able to provide assistance to families that would not otherwise have received any help at all. It is difficult for victims to move on with their lives after a disaster without having their basic needs met and Catholic Charities Atlanta has come through to meet those needs time after time. The assistance came in the form of appliances, paying dental, medical and utility bills, auto and home repairs, food, gas,and mortgage and rental payments. In some instances, Catholic Charities Atlanta arranged for improved housing arrangements for families who have been displaced by the storms. By having their physical needs met, the survivors are able to focus on their emotional struggles and move toward recovery.”
~ DBHDD, Georgia Recovery Project Member

Watch Our Video
We invite you to watch a video from one of your neighbors that we have helped. Nancy tells an amazing story of resilience, God’s grace, and community help.


Governor Nathan Deal Sends Letter of Praise to Catholic Charities Atlanta Staff for their Work with the Spring Tornado Victims

Catholic Charities staff and volunteers were busy in Spring 2011 providing help to victims of tornadoes,(in Spaulding County, in particular. Services provided included financial assistance for utilities, rent, household appliances, food and gas.The agency received a $10,000 emergency grant from Catholic Charities USA to help with funding this emergency effort. CCA applied through a Request for Proposal for a long-term grant through CCUSA in the amount of $100,000, which was approved for continued recovery efforts. CCA continues to collaborate with many GAVOD (Georgia Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster)community organizations including FEMA, Red Cross, Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), Lutheran Ministries, and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to provide assistance to the counties impacted. Catholic Charities Atlanta has now entered the “long-term recovery” stage. We will continue to work with the LTRC (long-term recover committees) to review cases and begin to provide assistance for housing, utilities, transportation/moving expenses and materials.

From Governor Deal….

“On behalf of our great state of Georgia, and all the families and individuals affected by the tornadoes that impacted our state in April, please accept my sincere appreciation the support, generosity and compassion you provided to assist in our response and recovery efforts. Your assistance and dedication in helping with the response and recovery from these devastating storms will always be remembered.

Those affected by these record breaking tornadoes continue to express their appreciation for the professional and assistance that you provided throughout the entire event. You are very special to the individuals and communities impacted by this disaster. While some may remember your name and your specific contribution, others will remember the overall kindness and compassion shown by so many neighbors and friends, and even strangers from far away.

Thank you so much for your generous efforts. On behalf of all Georgians, I am grateful for your assistance.”

Contact Information

Sandy Thompson, LPC
Manager of Case Management Services
Phone: (404) 920-7748
E-mail: sthompson@catholiccharitiesatlanta.org

History of Help


  • Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans and evacuees find their way to Atlanta. As a steady flow of families, singles, couples, the old and the young found their way to our offices, crowding into the waiting room, CCA realized that this was a history-making event for our agency. We assembled staff, resources, and know-how overnight to become an emergency relief provider. Over 7,000 individuals and families were provided with financial assistance forhousing, transportation, food, gas and medical needs.



  • Continued financial and case management support for Katrina families until June 30, 2010 when the last individual was assisted.



  • CCA helped evacuees of Hurricane Gustav. The agency provided professional case management and assistance with transportation expenses, lodging and grocery cards for the evacuees.
  • CCA helped the victims of the Spring tornadoes that ripped through downtown Atlanta, Butts County, Effingham County, and Floyd County.



  • CCA offered aid to the victims of the floods in the Fall of 2009. With over $60,000 in financial assistance, the agency was able to assist 166 individuals.



  • Catholic Charities Atlanta continued providing long-term recovery assistance to individuals and families impacted by the 2009 floods.



  • Spring tornadoes devastated many communities in the South and Northwest portions of Georgia. CCA provided aid and continues to provide assistance to many, especially those in Spalding County. CCA received a $100,000 grant from CCUSA to provide financial assistance to those impacted in the 25 counties which received Presidential Declarations of Emergency. CCA has provided assistance to 64 families and financial disbursement of over $12,000 to many families in need.