The cost of natural disasters worldwide could reach $314 billion annually by 2030, up from around $250 billion now, according to a 2016 report by the World Bank, which cites rising climate change as a key threat to cities around the globe.
Natural disasters, such as floods, tornadoes, and wildfires can quickly cut off access to basic, everyday needs. The biggest of these, and the most urgent, is access to clean, safe drinking water. Damage to infrastructure, as well as flooding, can contaminate drinking water supplies, not only inhibiting people’s ability to hydrate, but can also lead to sanitation issues and the spread of waterborne diseases.
For nearly 40 years, Americares has delivered medical aid and humanitarian assistance to millions of people affected by poverty or disaster worldwide. Nestlé Waters North America has proudly partnered with the global non-profit for more than a decade to deliver nearly 10 million bottles of water to communities in crisis.
“During a crisis, access to clean, safe drinking water is not always available or in close proximity. Our work with Americares allows us to deliver clean water to communities most in need,” said Nelson Switzer, Chief Sustainability Officer at Nestlé Waters North America, based in Stamford, CT. “We are incredibly proud of the people who work at Americares and the disaster relief support they provide to those in need.”
This partnership began in the wake of the devastation brought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, when Nestlé Waters donated 10 truckloads of water — as part of a larger 1.5 million-bottle donation to all responding disaster agencies — to help Americares bring vital relief to survivors in affected areas.
The experience prompted the two organizations to create a one million-bottle water reserve at the onset of the busiest part of the 2006 and 2007 hurricane seasons to enable rapid response to those in the Gulf Coast after a disaster.
Nestlé Waters North America operates 30 production facilities across the U.S. and can quickly transport bottled water supplies from the location closest to a disaster. As Americares’ main partner for providing bottled water in the United States, Nestlé Waters has been able to make more than 300 shipments of bottled water to communities in need since 2004.
“Direct deliveries from Nestlé Waters’ warehouses save critical time during emergencies, ensuring families can quickly access one of the most urgently needed relief items,” said Randy Weiss, Corporate Relations Director for Americares, which is also based in Stamford. “Our partnership with Nestlé Waters is invaluable and vital to the important work we do. We have always been able to count on Nestlé Waters to provide clean water for families in crisis.”
In January 2016, Americares and Nestlé Waters teamed up to deliver bottled water to the people of Flint, Michigan, where the tap water had been tainted with lead. Two truckloads, carrying 70,000 half-liter bottles, made their way to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, which works with 75 Flint partners, including church pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and community centers. About 100,000 families in Flint were affected by the crisis, including many low-income families whose access to a steady supply of bottled water could be financially out of reach.
“The water crisis has placed an extra burden on families in Flint, many of whom were already struggling,” said Americares Associate Director of Emergency Response Kate Dischino. “Thanks to our partnership with Nestlé Waters, more families will have access to clean, safe water.”
Just in the past year alone, Nestlé Waters and Americares have delivered more than 1.2 million bottles of water, or 36 truckloads, to support disaster relief efforts in the U.S, including:
- Alabama water contamination (2 trucks)
- Arizona wildfires (4 trucks)
- Flint, Michigan water crisis (2 trucks)
- Houston, Texas floods (2 trucks)
- Hurricane Matthew (11 trucks)
- Louisiana South Central floods (2 trucks)
- Louisiana Gulf Coast floods (3 trucks)
- Texas Memorial Day floods (4 trucks)
- Texas South Central floods (2 trucks)
- West Virginia floods (4 trucks)
Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other natural catastrophes can pose enormous humanitarian and logistical challenges to those on the front lines. The presence of bottled water in the early stages can make a vital difference to the health and well-being of residents caught in these disasters. “Nestlé Waters is proud to be able to partner with Americares to provide disaster relief, and we look forward to continuing to partner with them for many more years to come,” added Mr. Switzer.
Together, the organizations will continue to deliver much-needed bottled water to U.S. families and communities in need.