Brethren Disaster Ministries Responds Following Storms in Midwest and Plains

“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″

(June 12, 2008) — A rash of severe storms, particularly in the last few weeks, has disrupted normal life for thousands of families in parts of the Midwest and Great Plains. For weeks, hardly a day has passed without hearing news of yet another tornado or flood. States on either side of the Mississippi have been hit repeatedly. Already 110 people have been killed by tornados, almost twice the 10-year average.

Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services staff are busy monitoring the June 8 storms that deluged parts of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. This includes participating in conference calls with other response organizations to share information and to offer our services.

As is typical during the initial response phase of a major disaster, Children’s Disaster Services staff have been in touch with American Red Cross personnel in the hardest hit areas, offering to set up a child care project in a shelter or assistance center. The American Red Cross has requested Children’s Disaster Services to set up a child care center in response to the flooding in Indiana, and to respond in Iowa.

A child care center will be set up in a service center of the American Red Cross in Terre Haute, Ind. Ken Kline from Lima, Ohio, will be the project manager and a team of trained child care volunteers is being pulled together from Indiana and the surrounding area. Churches are being contacted to secure lodging for the volunteers.

Children’s Disaster Services is responding in Iowa in the Waterloo and Cedar Rapids area. Lorna Grow of Dallas Center, Iowa, has been monitoring the situation and is coordinating that response. A team of trained child care volunteers will watch children there while parents clean up and gather the resources necessary to take care of their basic needs and start recovering from the frequent storms that have ravaged areas of the state.

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have made contact with the denomination’s district offices to find out whether any Brethren have been affected by the storms and flooding, and to offer support and advice. District disaster coordinators have been continuously gathering data, sharing needs, and making our services known to the disaster-impacted communities.

Meanwhile, two grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund totaling $11,000 have been issued in response to an appeal from Church World Service (CWS). These grants are supporting the work of CWS to supply material aid, deploy staff for trainings, and financially support Long-Term Recovery Groups working in the affected areas.

CWS reports that governors in three states have declared disaster areas, with 21 counties in Indiana, 43 counties in Iowa, and 30 Wisconsin counties suffering significant weather damage within the last week. Flooding is such a concern in communities such as Waterloo, Iowa, that there are already comparisons to 1993’s massive flooding that killed 50 people and inflicted $15 billion in damage.

An appeal for Emergency Clean-Up Buckets for distribution in the Indiana flood area has been issued by CWS. Donors should not ship the buckets to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for this response. Instead, CWS has established a local collection point in Indiana: Penn Products Warehouse, 6075 Lakeside Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46278; 317-388-8580 ext. 298. Drop-off is between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For more information contact the office of CWS at Elkhart, Ind., at 574-264-3102. Go to for information about what to include in the kits.

–Jane Yount, who serves as coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries, and Judy Bezon, director of Children’s Disaster Services, contributed this joint report.


Christ Our Shepherd Church of the Brethren in Greenwood, Ind., has been keeping attuned to all of the relief efforts in Johnson County and the state of Indiana, following storms and flooding. Because of their efforts with the Johnson County courthouse and military veterans, through the denomination’s Welcome Home Project, the congregation was called upon to help with the relief efforts ministering to victims of the flood of June 7 and beyond.

The church has teamed up with Johnson County Emergency Management, United Way, and the American Red Cross to be an information center, and with FEMA as a processing point for people to sign in for damage assessment and for FEMA assistance to help with recovery.

Christ Our Shepherd Church also is going to team up with a designated Johnson County person to provide staffing to run a free department store for furniture, washers and dryers, and other appliances. The church’s food pantry will continue to be open 24/7 as they become aware of emergency needs. The church also may be open to housing and providing kitchen facilities for cooking or special needs of volunteers on the way to help flood victims.

Volunteers in Indiana are being urged to be patient and wait for the flood waters to recede and for safe conditions before responding in affected areas.

For more information contact pastor Chuck Berdel, Christ Our Shepherd Church of the Brethren, 857 N. State Rd. 135, Greenwood, IN 46142-1314; 317-882-0902.

–Jane Yount serves as coordinator of Brethren Disaster Ministries.


The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to Submit news to the editor at For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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