Role of Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Providing Relief and Recovery Services After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Types of Services Provided

12/20/2008

In the aftermath of a hurricane, there are at least two phases to recovery that necessitate different types of services. First are the immediate rescue and relief activities to help victims of the storm. Later, recovery activities help individuals and families reconstruct their lives and cope with loss. The survey asked questions to learn what types of services were provided by FBCOs and how long groups provided these services.

Although hurricanes are common in the Gulf Coast region, hurricanes Katrina and Rita were so powerful and damage so extensive that the response of organizations in the region and around the country was unprecedented. Indeed, two-thirds of the FBCOs in the survey said that this was the first time that they provided disaster relief services after a hurricane. The share of first-time providers was slightly higher for secular nonprofits (71 percent), perhaps reflecting the fact that congregations commonly provide emergency services as distinct from ongoing social services. Seventy-five percent of FBCOs in the distant (tertiary) areas of the region also were first-time providers.

Immediate Relief Services

The most common services provided immediately after the storm by FBCOs in the survey were provision of clothing, food, water, monetary or in-kind assistance, and temporary housing. Roughly 70 percent of respondents indicated that they had engaged in at least one of these activities (Table 3). To a much lesser extent, FBCOs provided first aid or medical care (25 percent), transportation out of the impacted areas (21 percent), and search and rescue activities (8 percent). These patterns of service provision were similar regardless of the FBCOs location. Providing clothing and food were generally the most common activities, while engaging in medical care, transportation away from the disaster area, and search and rescue missions were far less common.

Table 3.
Services Most Commonly Provided Immediately after the Hurricanes
Characteristic N Percent of Organizations That Provided the Following Immediate Services:
Clothing/
household goods
Food Water & emergency supplies Money or in-kind donations Temp housing & shelter First aid/medical services Transportation
out of affected areas
Search & rescue activities
All respondents 202 71.8 69.3 63.4 58.4 53.0 24.8 21.3 8.4
                   
Faith-based organization 120 84.2** 78.3** 72.5** 70.8** 59.2 30.8* 25.8 10.0
Secular Nonprofit 82 53.7** 56.1** 50.0** 40.2** 43.9 15.9* 14.6 6.1
                   
Louisiana 105 66.7 66.7 59.0 56.2 55.2 21.9 24.8 10.5
Mississippi 83 75.9 69.9 67.5 60.2 51.8 25.3 16.9 7.2
Houston, TX 14 85.7 85.7 71.4 64.3 42.9 42.9 21.4 0.0
                   
Primary impact area 77 67.5 67.5 62.3 59.7 53.2 19.5 20.8 7.8
Adjacent to impact area 73 74.0 67.1 63.0 53.4 54.8 26.0 23.3 12.3
Source: Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
* Difference significant at 0.05 level.
** Difference significant at 0.01 level.

A larger proportion of faith-based organizations in the survey provided immediate relief services than did their secular counterparts. For example, between 70 and 85 percent of faith-based organizations provided clothing, food, water, and in-kind assistance compared with roughly 40 to 55 percent of the secular nonprofitsa statistically significant difference. Also, higher percentages of faith-based organizations provided temporary housing, transportation out of the affected areas, and search and rescue activities than did secular nonprofits in the survey, but the differences in percentages between these two types of providers are relatively small and not statistically significant.

Two-thirds of the respondents said they began providing immediate relief services during the storm or within the first week after the storm (Table 4). Distance from the hurricanes direct impact was a significant factor in determining when services began. FBCOs located in the adjacent parishes and counties outside the immediate impact areas were quickest to respond. Three-quarters of them started providing services during or just after the storm, and 90 percent were assisting within the first month. Similarly, in the areas farthest from the impact, 90 percent of the FBCOs were taking action within the first month after the storm. The devastation that occurred in the hardest hit areas undoubtedly slowed the response of many FBCOs in those locations. Just over half (52 percent) in the hardest hit areas started providing services within the first week after the storm, but a quarter did not begin until after the first month. Distance from the storms impact appears to be the key factor in the quickness of response. No other factor was statistically significant.

Table 4.
Inception of Immediate Relief Services
Characteristic Number When Did You Begin Providing Immediate Services?
During or right
after storm
(first week)
Not in first week
but in first month
Sometime after
first month
All respondents 186 65.6 19.9 14.5
         
Faith-based organization  117 65.8 19.7 14.5
Secular nonprofit 69 65.2 20.3 14.5
         
Louisiana  98 63.3 21.4 15.3
Mississippi 74 68.9 17.6 13.5
Houston, TX 14 64.3 21.4 14.3
         
Primary impact area*  69 52.2 23.2 24.6
Adjacent to impact area* 67 76.1 16.4 7.5
Farthest from impact area* 50 70.0 20.0 10.0
Source: Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
Note: Data are missing for 16 respondents.
* Difference significant at 0.05 level.

About one in three FBCOs was continuing to provide immediate relief services, such as temporary housing, two years after the storms. The highest share of these services (35 percent) was located in the primary impact areas, reflecting the rebuilding that continues there. Also, a somewhat greater share of secular nonprofits (33 percent) than faith-based organizations (28 percent) continued to provide such services, perhaps reflecting the short-term, emergency services that congregations often provide.

For the most part, immediate relief services were offered for a relatively short duration. Of those that no longer delivered services, most FBCOs in the survey (53 percent) stopped within three months of the storm. Fewer than one in five (17 percent) provided immediate relief services for more than one year (Table 5). FBCOs in the primary impact areas and secular nonprofits were mostly likely to provide these services for the longest time. In each case, slightly more than a quarter (27 percent) of these organizations provided immediate relief services for more than a year before ending the services.

Table 5.
Duration of Immediate Relief Services
Characteristic Still Providing Service? When Did You Stop Providing Immediate Services?
Yes (N) % of total All (N) Do not know After one month After three months After one year Sometime later
than one year
All respondents 56 30.1 128 4.7 27.3 25.8 25.0 17.2
                 
Faith-based organization 33 28.2 83 4.8 28.9 30.1 24.1 12.0
Secular nonprofit 23 33.3 45 4.4 24.4 17.8 26.7 26.7
                 
Louisiana  27 27.6 71 5.6 29.6 32.4 18.3 14.1
Mississippi 24 32.4 49 2.0 22.4 16.3 36.7 22.4
Houston, TX 5 35.7 8 12.5 37.5 25.0 12.5 12.5
                 
Primary impact area  24 34.8 45 4.4 15.6 24.4 28.9 26.7
Adjacent to impact area 18 26.9 48 4.2 37.5 29.2 18.8 10.4
Farthest from impact area 14 28.0 35 5.7 28.6 22.9 28.6 14.3
Source: Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
Note: Data are missing for 18 respondents.

Long-Term Recovery Services

In the aftermath of hurricanes, many types of services are needed to help individuals and families recover from the devastation of the storms. These services often include counseling to address the mental and emotional traumas suffered because of the storm, repair and reconstruction of damaged property, finding new jobs, and addressing educational and child care needs of children.

After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the most common types of long-term recovery services offered by FBCOs were spiritual counseling (53 percent), housing rehabilitation (42 percent), and mental health counseling (36 percent). Much less common were services addressing child care and school needs, job training, and family reunification (Table 6).

Table 6.
Most Common Long-Term Recovery Services
  N Percent of Organizaitons That Provided the Following Long-Term Recovery Services:
Spiritual Conseling Housing rehab. Mental health Child care Job training Family reunification
All respondents 202 53.0 42.1 35.6 25.7 20.8 19.8
               
Faith-based organizations 120 75.0** 57.5** 35.8 23.3 17.5 20.0
Secular nonprofit 82 20.7** 19.5** 35.4 29.3 25.6 19.5
               
Louisiana 105 49.5 34.3** 33.3 25.7 21.0** 21.0
Mississippi 83 56.6 56.6** 38.6 21.7 14.5** 16.9
Houston, TX 14 57.1 14.3** 35.7 50.0 57.1** 28.6
               
Primary impact area 77 57.1 53.2* 44.2 22.1 14.3* 18.2
Adjacent to impact area 73 49.3 38.4* 34.2 27.4 19.2* 17.8
Farthest from impact area 52 51.9 30.88* 25.0 28.8 32.7* 25.0
Source: Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
*Difference significant at 0.05 level.
** Difference significant at 0.01 level.

Not surprisingly, the faith-based organizations in the survey were most likely to engage in spiritual counseling. Three-quarters of them indicated that they provided this service, and about one-tenth provided only spiritual counseling. One-fifth of secular nonprofits also addressed spiritual needs. About equal proportions of faith-based and secular nonprofits offered mental health counseling (roughly 35 percent), although it is difficult to know what distinctions respondents made between, for example, pastoral counseling and mental health counseling.

Long-term housing servicesthat is, cleanup, repairs, and rebuilding (as distinct from emergency shelter)are also prominent among services provided by faith-based groups. Nearly three in five faith-based respondents (58 percent) reported providing long-term housing services, compared with one in five nonprofit respondents (20 percent). Further, as Table 6 also shows, more than half of all respondents in the directly impacted areas engaged in housing services. Understandably, FBCOs farther away from the primary impact area were less likely to offer long-term housing assistance. Also, a significantly larger share of FBCOs in Mississippi (57 percent) than in Louisiana (34 percent) was active in long-term housing assistance. The number of respondents in Texas is too small to have reliable estimates.

Although fewer than one in four FBCOs in the survey reported offering child care, job training, and family reunification services in the wake of the hurricanes, these types of services tended to be more prevalent among FBCOs located far away from the heavily impacted areas. In the vicinity of the Houston Astrodome, for example, half the FBCOs in the survey offered child care or school services, and 57 percent offered job training programs. In contrast, the percentage of FBCOs in Louisiana and Mississippi that offered these services was roughly half as large. The data suggest that the farther from the directly impacted areas, the more likely it is that a FBCO will engage in services such as child care and job training, which might be associated with resettlement activities.

Similar to immediate relief services, some long-term recovery services began within days of the hurricanes. Sixty-four percent of FBCOs offered long-term recovery services within the first week of the storm. An additional 22 percent were providing these services within the first month (Table 7). Distance from the storms impact significantly affected when these services began. FBCOs in the sample were slower to begin services if they were in the heavily impacted areas compared with those in the secondary and tertiary areas, no doubt partly reflecting quarantines that remained in areas of impact, including all of New Orleans. There were no significant differences between faith-based and secular nonprofits or among the three states in the survey. Almost half of FBCOs (47 percent) were continuing to provide long-term recovery services at the time of the survey. A higher proportion of FBCOs in the primary impact areas than organizations located farther away reported that they were continuing to provide recovery services, although the differences are not statistically significant (Table 8).

Table 7.
Inception of Long-Term Recovery Services
Characteristic N When Did You Begin Providing Long-Term Recovery Services?
Do not know During or right after storm
(first week)
Not in first week
but in first month
Sometime after
first month
All respondents 167 1.2 63.5 22.2 13.2
           
Faith-based organization 103 1.9 64.1 22.3 11.7
Secular nonprofit 64 0.0 62.5 21.9 15.6
           
Louisiana 82 1.2 63.4 20.7 14.6
Mississippi 73 1.4 61.6 26.0 11.0
Houston, TX 12 . 75.0 8.3 16.7
           
Primary impact area* 68 1.5 50.0 26.5 22.1
Adjacent to impact area* 57 1.8 77.2 17.5 3.5
Farthest from impact area* 42 0.0 66.7 21.4 11.9
Source: Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
Note: Data are missing for 35 respondents.
* Difference significant at 0.05 level.
** Difference significant at 0.01 level.
Table 8.
Duration of Long-Term Recovery Services
  Still Providing Services? When Did You Stop Providing Long-Term Recovery Services?
Yes
(n)
% of total  All (n) Do not
know
After
one month
After
three months
After
one year
Sometime later
than one year
All respondents 79 47.3 87 6.9 14.9 28.7 32.2 17.2
                 
Faith-based organization  51 49.5 51 7.8 17.6 35.3 23.5 15.7
Secular nonprofit 28 43.8 36 5.6 11.1 19.4 44.4 19.4
                 
Louisiana**  38 46.3 44 11.4 13.6 40.9 25.0 9.1
Mississippi** 34 46.6 38 2.6 10.5 15.8 42.1 28.9
Houston, TX** 7 58.3 5 0.0 60.0 20.0 20.0 0.0
                 
Primary impact area  38 55.9 30 13.3 3.3 26.7 40.0 16.7
Adjacent to impact area 26 45.6 30 3.3 20.0 30.0 23.3 23.3
Farthest from impact area 15 35.7 27 3.7 22.2 29.6 33.3 11.1
Source: Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
Note: Data are missing for 36 respondents.
** Difference significant at 0.01 level.

Among the FBCOs that stopped providing long-term recovery services, nearly half (49 percent) continued their programs for one year or longer. FBCOs in Mississippi and secular nonprofits were particularly likely to offer recovery services for an extended period. In Mississippi, about 70 percent of FBCOs that discontinued providing recovery services had provided the service for at least a year, as did 64 percent of the secular nonprofits. In contrast, 34 percent of FBCOs in Louisiana and 39 percent of faith-based providers in the survey continued their recovery services for at least one year.

Help with Paperwork and Claim Forms

The survey data suggest that helping individuals and families file damage claims or complete applications for other types of assistance was an uncommon activity for FBCOs (Table 9). Roughly 60 percent of FBCOs in the survey, regardless of the type of organization, state, or distance from the storm, reported that they did not provide assistance with claims forms and other types of paperwork.

Table 9.
Help with Paperwork
  N Percent of Organizaiton That Provided the Following Paperwork Services:
None Apply to FEMA Apply for welfare Apply for private insurance Apply for legal aid
All respondents 202 59.9 32.7 22.3 15.3 12.4
             
Faith-based organizations 120 60.8 33.3 24.2 16.7 10.0
Secular nonprofit 82 58.5 31.7 19.5 13.4 15.9
             
Louisiana 105 61.9 31.4 21.9 12.4 7.6*
Mississippi 83 57.8 33.7 20.5 18.1 15.7*
Houston, TX 14 57.1 35.7 35.7 21.4 28.6*
             
Primary impact area 77 63.6 32.5 24.7 18.2 18.2
Adjacent to impact area 73 50.7 35.7 19.2 15.1 8.2
Fathest from impact area 52 67.3 28.8 23.1 11.5 9.6
Source: Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
* Difference significant at 0.05 level.

The most common type of assistance was helping people with claims to FEMA. About one in three FBCOs that responded to the survey provided this service. The second most common assistance was helping people complete welfare applicationsabout one in five FBCOs gave this type of assistance. Much smaller proportions of FBCOs helped with private insurance claims (15 percent) and applications for legal assistance (12 percent). Differences by type of provider and location were generally not statistically significant.

Because a relatively small number of FBCOs in the survey provided assistance with paperwork and given the difficulty of recalling details about these activities, the survey provides only rough estimates of when these services started and stopped. The data suggest, however, that most (57 percent) FBCOs that provided assistance with paperwork and insurance claims forms began helping within the first week of the storm (Table 10). About 21 of the 70 FBCOs that could recall details about this service were still providing help at the time of the survey. Of those that reported discontinuing the service, the majority stopped within three months after the storms (Table 11). Compared with FBCOs in other locations, those in the primary impact areas were more likely to still provide assistance with claims (41 percent) and to have offered the services for a longer time. Fifteen percent stopped providing assistance with paperwork more than a year later.

Table 10.
Inception of Services to File Claims
Characteristic N When Did You Begin Providing Paperwork Assistance?
Do not know During or right after
storm ( first week)
Not in first week
but in first month
Sometime after
first month
All respondents 70 12.9 57.1 17.1 12.9
           
Faith-based organization 41 9.8 65.9 12.2 12.2
Secular nonprofit 29 17.2 44.8 24.1 13.8
           
Louisiana 31 16.1 58.1 16.1 9.7
Mississippi 33 9.1 57.6 18.2 15.2
Houston, TX 6 16.7 50.0 16.7 16.7
           
Primary impact area 27 14.8 48.1 18.5 18.5
Adjacent to impact area 26 11.5 61.5 15.4 11.5
Farthest from impact area 17 11.8 64.7 17.6 5.9
Source:  Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
Note:  Analysis based on 70 respondents providing the service.
Table 11.
Duration of Assistance with Paperwork
Characteristic Still Providing Services? All When Did You Stop Providing Paperwork Assistance?
N % of total Do not know After
one month
After
three months
After
one year
Sometime later
than one year
All respondents 21 30.0 45 8.9 24.4 33.3 24.4 8.9
                 
Faith-based organization  8 19.5 30 3.3 26.7 33.3 26.7 10.0
Secular nonprofit 13 44.8 15 20.0 20.0 33.3 20.0 6.7
                 
Louisiana  9 29.0 19 10.5 26.3 36.8 21.1 5.3
Mississippi 10 30.3 22 9.1 22.7 27.3 27.3 13.6
Houston, TX 2 33.3 4 0.0 25.0 50.0 25.0 0.0
                 
Primary impact area  11 40.7 13 7.7 23.1 15.4 38.5 15.4
Adjacent to impact area 7 26.9 18 11.1 22.2 44.4 22.2 0.0
Farthest from impact area 3 17.6 14 7.1 28.6 35.7 14.3 14.3
Source: Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
Note: Data are based on 21 organizations providing service.

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