Disaster response can generally be divided into two phases the immediate rescue and relief services and long-term recovery services although the distinction between the two sometimes blurs. Roughly 70 percent of survey respondents provided immediate relief services, such as food, water, clothing, and temporary shelter. A higher proportion of faith-based groups (predominantly congregations) than secular nonprofits provided these services (Figure 1). Three-quarters of the faith-based organizations reported providing spiritual counseling. In contrast, fewer FBCOs provided long-term recovery services. Housing repairs were the most common long-term service (reported by 42 percent of FBCO respondents), while only 20-30 percent provided other types of long-term services that might aid in resettlement, such as mental health counseling or job training.
Source: Urban Institute 2007-08 survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
Chance explained the direction that the case study responses often took. Thus, many study organizations performed a range of functions as needs and resources changed over the course of the disaster. These might include management of donations, volunteer housing and coordination, case management, and various direct health and human services.
Distance from the storm affected the speed with which FBCOs responded. The survey found that FBCOs away from the storms immediate impact were both quick to respond and to leave that is, more than half ended their assistance within three months. Fewer FBCOs in the primary impact areas responded immediately, no doubt because of the devastation in these areas and the restrictions imposed on returning to areas under evacuation orders that lasted many weeks after the storms. But at the time of the survey, more than half the FBCOs in the primary impact area were providing some long-term recovery services.