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Who's most vulnerable?

Faith-based groups were ready to respond in vulnerable communities that might not make the headlines.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | September 17, 2003


"In New York's southern tier where Hurricane Agnes hit in 1972 those areas are very depressed."

—Joann Hale


Faith-based groups were ready to respond in vulnerable communities that might not make the headlines.

Who could suffer from an "invisible disaster?" Communities further north and further inland of Isabel's landfall could suffer from the storm's far-reaching wrath.

Many mid-Atlantic states are already saturated from heavy rains this summer, said Tom Hazelwood, disaster response network manager for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. "My concern is that the media will focus on these $800,000 homes on the Outer Banks while people living in house trailers along creeks will be up to their eyeballs in floodwater," he said.

Joann Hale, a Church World Service (CWS) disaster response and recovery liaison (DRRL), agreed with Hazelwood. "In the Washington-Baltimore area, there are many poor communities with high unemployment rates and people who are already living on the edge," she pointed out, and flood damage would hit these neighborhoods hard.

Delaware's high number of mobile homes was also a concern, Hale said, along with Spanish-speaking communities in New Jersey and New York.

"In New York's southern tier where Hurricane Agnes hit in 1972 those areas are very depressed," Hale said. "There are low incomes and low employment."

Tim Johnson, another CWS DRRL, said Virginia, West Virginia, and southern Pennsylvania are extremely prone to flooding because the ground is so saturated.


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