(May 3, 2007) — Disaster Child Care has responded to the needs in New Jersey following flooding. Disaster Child Care is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board.
In mid-April, a massive early-spring weather system socked the east coast with a deluge of rain, the DCC office reported. New Jersey was particularly hard hit, causing the Raritan River to swell 10 feet over flood stage. At least 1,600 people were evacuated by boat.
The American Red Cross (ARC) requested Disaster Child Care services for approximately one week in an ARC shelter at Raritan Valley Community College in North Branch. From April 23-28, four volunteers cared for some 80 children in that location, with John Surr serving as project manager.
Save the Children, a partner children’s disaster-response program, assisted Disaster Child Care by preceding caregivers to potential sites to search out and set up safe spaces in which children can be cared for by Disaster Child Care volunteers.
While the volunteers were still providing care during the initial week requested by ARC, Disaster Child Care coordinator Helen Stonesifer received another urgent appeal. ARC requested that the program extend the stay of volunteers in the Raritan Valley Community College shelter as well as send additional volunteers to staff other shelters or service centers.
On April 29, a second wave of 14 caregivers including project manager Connie Rutt, left on very short notice for a two-week stint to bring comfort and security to children affected by the flooding. Some of these volunteers are continuing to work at Raritan Valley Community College, while others are providing care at an ARC shelter at Bound Brook Presbyterian Church.
Lou Kilgore, pastor of the Bound Brook church, indicated that a few of the more than 160 people who stayed there have moved on. The remaining families, mostly from the Hispanic neighborhood of Bound Brook, “really have no place to go,” he said.
Dave Costain, a church member and ARC volunteer, was very pleased by the presence of the Disaster Child Care volunteers. “We’ve got lots of babies here,” he said.
For more about Disaster Child Care, go to www.brethren.org/genbd/ersm/dcc.htm.