Emergency response: Building resilient communities

Woman stands in downtown portland posing for a headshot

Why it matters

Our team focuses on empowering communities across the Pacific Northwest with resources that allow them to be more resilient in the face of natural and economic shocks.

Economic disparities widen after a natural disaster strikes – as inequalities related to insurance, savings and access to community-based resources widen. Small businesses are also vulnerable to closing after a disaster if they do not have a business continuity plan, which can be difficult to access and develop.

More than 90% of small businesses fail within one year of a disaster unless they can resume business operations within five days.

Mercy Corps Northwest works with communities to combat aftershocks by offering support for small businesses that counter the impacts of natural and economic disasters.


Take a look at our COVID-19 impact across the Pacific Northwest
  • $4.2M

    disbursed to local small businesses
  • 10,000

    masks distributed in Oregon and Washington
  • 650+

    entrepreneurs offered technical support

Business continuation and emergency funding for small businesses

We advocate for giving small business owners the tools they need to grow and thrive. Our Business Continuity programs work with small business owners to create plans for continuing business after a disaster strikes. We know that small businesses support individuals, families, and communities.

Our team works with our partners to determine how to do everything from keeping business operations afloat – to adapting entrepreneurial skill sets – in the face of environmental setbacks.

In 2020, entrepreneurs who we work with across Oregon and Washington reported losses of $1,000-150,000 in monthly revenue beginning in late March – with over 50 percent reporting layoffs.

Mercy Corps Northwest distributed nearly $1.5M in grants to 200+ small business owners in Oregon and Washington experiencing hardships related to COVID‑19 from April to September of 2020. By February of 2021, that number reached $4.2M in support to over 650 local businesses.

Local and national emergency response

Mercy Corps Northwest is part of several volunteer networks working to prepare communities in advance of natural disasters:

  • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) - Mercy Corps is a member of this network comprised of national organizations who focus on response and recovery in the United States.

  • Oregon Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (ORVOAD) - Oregon based organizations, churches, government partners, etc who focus on disaster response and recovery.

  • Community Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) - Multnomah County COAD consists of members representing various sectors of the community. There are several COADs across Oregon who activate during a disaster and are specific to their area.

Our work as part of these networks includes surveying communities, understanding risks associated with natural and environmental crises, and maintaining strong partnerships ready to respond in an event of an emergency. 

MCNW responds as small business owners struggle to stay afloat.
MCNW launches grants for Portland black-owned small businesses.

Contact us

If you are looking to partner with Mery Corps Northwest to distribute emergency funding, offer safety supplies to small businesses, or offer technical support, please reach out to our team.

Lynn Renken
Executive Director