Historic amounts of rain and flooding in South Carolina

( Image courtesy of South Carolina Emergency Division )

Hurricane Joaquin was expected to make landfall Monday, October 5, 2015. The category 3 storm was erratic and strengthening as it headed toward the Bahamas. After this extremely dangerous storm left Rum Cay and San Salvador, it veered east leaving the Bahamas in distress. With 120 mph winds, its hurricane force extended outward for 35 miles producing heavy rain and flooding in the North East.

The heaviest rainfall totals in SC were 26.88 inches. This multi-day event caused severe flash flooding along with major river flooding at several locations. Moderate to major flooding will persist across the central and eastern portions of the state. Flooding is expected to continue along coastal areas as slow water recession will likely follow.

* At its peak, over 25,000 customers were reported without power

* Statewide over 270 roads are closed along with 140 bridges.

* Over 900 SC residents have been evacuated (200 in Columbia)

* 17 confirmed storm related fatalities (with the media reporting 19)

* 18 schools systems and colleges are reported closed

* 24 shelters open with over 600 occupants.

Feed the Children is responding to this event. We are currently allocating supplies to one of our community partners with operations based in Columbia, Operation Compassion. We also are supporting House of Destiny, another longtime partner in South Carolina. We are filling orders to stand ready to support the area with more supplies as the need continues to unfold.

More aid efforts are underway. Our partners, Convoy of Hope, loaded over 300 of our Feed the Children disaster relief boxes on their truck headed to South Carolina. This was product they had remaining from the response to flooding here in Oklahoma and Texas earlier this year. Plans are still being developed to support the area through FTC Transportation but we want to make sure these shipments go to the areas that need it most. We also must ensure we send the right product to the right area, to the right people at the right time. With flood waters still rising and new areas being impacted, our timing on sending trucks must coincide with water level decline and need in the community.

Feed the Children is an organization in which communities rely on during their most difficult times. Through hundreds of shipments to our international offices and partner agencies, Feed the Children has been able to provide assistance to the areas hit hardest by past disasters. By partnering with Feed the Children and making financial contributions, one can be assured together we are making a difference. Help us by keeping a “disaster” from a becoming a “total disaster” to a family or individual in need.

To receive time-sensitive updates on potential disaster relief find us on our various social media platforms or text Disaster to 51555.

John Ricketts is the Director of Domestic Programming and Disaster Services at Feed the Children.

Feed the Children Goes to Washington

One of the most exciting new developments in the past year for Feed the Children has been the opening of a new office in Washington DC. Joining the ranks of its non-profit counterparts, Feed the Children created a government relations team to be a voice in Washington and to represent the millions of children and families we serve. Most of all we see the work of this team as the group to lead the charge into advocacy.

“Advocacy” means many things. At Feed the Children, advocacy educates, elevates conversations and promotes policies to address the systemic issue of hunger and poverty. We seek to be a voice for the voiceless. We seek to partner with governmental agencies already engaged in similar work both in the US and around the world.

US flag on building

Lobbying, or directly speaking to policy makers, is only one function of advocacy and is practiced by the two members of our advocacy team as well as myself and members of the executive team.

Bottom line—Feed the Children is and ALWAYS will be a non-partisan organization. We only take positions on specific issues that impact the communities we serve on a case-by-case basis. As a charity organization, we can’t make donations to any political party or endorse a candidate for public office.

In the last several months, we have built some very solid relationships with the Administration and members of Congress (on both sides of the political spectrum).  We have significantly raised our profile, not only with government officials, but also with our nonprofit counterparts.  It has given us a seat at the proverbial table and we have been widely welcomed.

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A day in the life of our team in Washington is different every day—often driven by the legislative schedule and the needs of our programing offices at any given time.

Most recently, our team pounded the pavement working to protect the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), America’s largest and most effective hunger relief program. Recently, the House of Representatives voted $40 billion in cuts to the SNAP program but must be approved by the Senate and signed by the President to be signed into law. So the fight is not over. We are now encouraging members of the House and Senate to come up with a compromise bill that will reform SNAP while protecting the most vulnerable of our society.   This is only one example of advocacy in action.

Additionally, our staff in Washington also works to reduce roadblocks. For example, gifts in kind donations have been freed in international customs because of the work of our D.C. team. They’ve also been in conversation with the US Department of State and Embassies to handle other international operational issues that affect our ability to serve more children.  And of course, they fundraise too!  They are busy researching international grants and domestic program grants that can increase our impact through federal funding.

In addressing hunger in the US and around the world, the situation we are faced with is that even if we quadrupled our revenue and service, Feed the Children couldn’t begin to solve the child hunger problem alone. The problem has to be addressed in partnership with those who work in Washington among many others. And, Feed the Children is glad to be here in Washington—especially during seasons like this one.

You Can Help the Philippines Recover from Typhoon Haiyan

“It is a terrible time for all of us here.  We can only pray and hope that it will not be that strong when it finally gets to land.”

This was the last email we received from our Philippines office before Typhoon Haiyan struck on Thursday afternoon, November 7. We held our breath and prayed and waited through an agonizing 24 hours until finally on Friday night, our country director got a message through to us.

“We’re all safe. I am with our Feed the Children-Philippines team north of Cebu today bringing hot VitaMeal-based ‘champorado’ to typhoon victims here.”

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Desperately Needed Relief

You’ve seen the images. Whole communities are nothing but splintered wood. Thousands dead. Thousands more desperate for food, water, and shelter. All this on the heels of a magnitude-7.2 earthquake just two weeks prior.

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Hungry children line up to receive food at one of our mobile kitchens.

In spite of it all, our staff persist. They are checking on all of the people in all of the communities we serve. They are driving mobile kitchens out into typhoon-devastated areas, serving hot food fortified with VitaMeal and delivering bags of rice and bottled water to children and their families. (VitaMeal provides an essential balance of nutrients for brain and skeletal development, skin health, and immune defense, prevents dehydration with electrolytes, and provides 25 vitamins and minerals.)

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Thanks to donors like you and the financial support of partners like Foundation 4Life and Teleperformance Group, we are able to keep delivering food and water to these families.

Long-Term Recovery

All of this work is saving lives today. But it isn’t the full story.

Because of our 25 years in the country, we also see the big picture and all it will take to recover what was destroyed. We helped build the infrastructure – the feeding programs, schools, water and sanitation systems, and livelihood projects – that now needs repair.

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Even though their homes are destroyed, these boys can smile thanks to the warm meal and water delivered by our Philippines staff.

One island community where we work was completely leveled. We have signed up 320 children in this community the Philippines to receive a sponsor. As of November 20, 97 still need to be sponsored.

The Philippines needs assistance today; but beyond that, they need investors for tomorrow. We have been there for 25 years, and we are committed to staying for the long haul.

You Can Help

Perhaps you have been overwhelmed by just how massive the catastrophe in the Philippines is and thought, “I can’t do anything to help. The situation is too terrible for my small donation to make a difference.”

We have good news – you can help! When you sponsor a child from the Philippines, you not only invest in the health and education of that boy or girl, you also invest in their community as a whole. And in the wake of this storm, you can know that 100% of your sponsorship dollars will go directly toward storm assistance – rebuilding, repairing, and helping communities get back on their feet.

Jennifer is three years old and lives in the community wiped out by Typhoon Haiyan. She has hope for a future because she has a sponsor.
Jennifer is three years old and lives in the Feed the Children community wiped out by Typhoon Haiyan. She is one of the fortunate ones who has a sponsor investing in her future.

Child sponsorship changes a person’s life in a real, tangible, measurable way. A study published in the Journal of Political Economy  examined 10,000 individuals in six countries and found that adults who were sponsored as children are:

  • One third more likely to finish high school
  • More likely to complete more than one year of higher education
  •  35% more likely to have white collar jobs

Sponsoring a child from the Philippines is a powerful way for you to respond to Typhoon Haiyan. These 97 children whose homes were destroyed in the typhoon still need sponsors. Take action today. Sponsor a child in this community and show them you care. 

Scott Killough, PhD, is Vice President for Program Development at Feed the Children.