Hurricane Response

The official annual hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin is from June 1 to November 30. In the past three years this area has been struck by massive hurricanes: Hurricane Matthew (2016); Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (2017); and Hurricane Florence in 2018. Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services have been, and are, responding to these storms, serving the needs of survivors, both for the short and the long-term. Up-to-date information is available on the BDM and CDS Facebook pages.

How you can help after a hurricane:

Hurricane Florence, September 2018

Hurricane Florence made landfall on the North Carolina coast on September 14 as a Category 1 slow moving storm, dropping over 50 inches of rain in some areas, swelling rivers and causing catastrophic flooding, including to many areas that had been hit by Hurricane Matthew two years earlier. The storm has been blamed for at least 42 deaths.

  • Children’s Disaster Services monitored Hurricane Florence prior to its landfall and sent multiple teams of CDS volunteers, requested by the Red Cross, to shelters in North and South Carolina. Additional volunteers remain on standby. A South Carolina team had to be redeployed to the north when flooding prevented them from reaching their destination. The Maryland Department of Human Services also requested CDS volunteers to serve in a Maryland shelter for evacuees from the Carolinas.

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries’ Rebuild project, currently based in Lumberton, N.C., is perfectly positioned to work with local partners who may request volunteers for immediate clean-up of homes affected by the storm and floods. Partners in Nichols, S.C., have already expressed a desire to do immediate clean-up to prevent the problems with mold that developed because of a delayed response after Hurricane Matthew.

  • Material Resources began preparing to ship CWS hygiene and school kits, clean up buckets (see box) and other materials well before Hurricane Florence made landfall. Multiple shipments are being sent to areas hit by the storm.

Immediate hurricane/storm response

As storms develop, Children’s Disaster Services identifies volunteers who are ready to deploy to shelters as soon as requested, usually by the American Red Cross, to set up childcare centers and provide a calm, safe and secure presence amid the chaos of the disaster. Before Hurricane Irma made landfall, CDS volunteers were already prepositioned in evacuation centers in Florida. In the weeks following storms, CDS volunteers may serve in resource/assistance centers (as they did after Hurricanes Harvey in 2017), caring for children while the adults in their family access the help they need to begin their journey to recovery.

As flood waters begin to recede, Brethren Disaster Ministries staff coordinate their response efforts and planning in storm-affected areas with Church of the Brethren leaders, Church World Service and other church and local partners, to identify ways that BDM and its volunteers can support immediate clean up and future rebuilding efforts.

Immediately after a disaster, compassionate people are eager to help. (see How you can help above – hyperlink) Making CWS kits (hygiene, school, cleanup buckets) is one way to be actively involved. Cash donations, rather than material donations, provide flexibility so resources can be used most effectively. Unsolicited volunteers can become a huge burden on people and resources and may be turned away by local law enforcement. Immediate volunteer opportunities can be found through known local organizations, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) or BDM.

Long-term hurricane/storm response

The work of repairing and rebuilding homes after a disaster can last for years. Long after emergency rescues are made, shelters are closed, and the media has left, Brethren Disaster Ministries and BDM volunteers continue to support the most vulnerable disaster survivors.

Hurricane Matthew, October 2016: In September 2017, BDM began working in South and North Carolina to rebuild homes damaged by the hurricane and the resulting flooding. Based initially in Marion County, S.C., one of the hardest hit areas, the project is now located in Lumberton, N.C.

Hurricanes Harvey (August) and Irma (September), 2017: BDM supported volunteers participating in short-term recovery responses in Texas, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands and remains in contact with long-term recovery organizations in these areas.

Hurricane Maria, September 2017: BDM partnered with the Church of the Brethren Puerto Rico district immediately after the hurricane, providing emergency funding and materials, moral and prayer support, and working with the district leadership too plan a response. In partnership with the church, BDM opened a recovery project, currently based in Castañer, to rebuild homes damaged by the hurricane.

Other BDM Responses

Responding to any disaster is a long-term effort that will take many years. BDM currently has a combined active rebuild site serving communities in North and South Carolina that were affected by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. For more information on this opportunity to serve now, contact Terry Goodger tgoodger@brethren.org or 410-635-8730.