CDS Cares for Children in Alabama, Receives Requests from Mississippi and Tennessee

Photos from the current CDS response are not yet available, but the above pictures from a Midwest flood response in 2008 illustrates the work of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers. CDS sets up and staff special childcare sites following disasters like the current spate of tornadoes and floods, in order to both provide nurturing care for children and families, and to give parents time and space to seek the assistance they need, knowing their children are being cared for by trained and certified volunteers. Photo by Becky Morris.

Just as Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is finishing a response to a devastating tornado in Tuscaloosa, Ala., new requests for services keep arriving, reports LethaJoy Martin of the CDS office.

CDS has been responding at the Belk Center Park Recreation Building shelter in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Six CDS volunteers initially arrived on April 29, and eight volunteers have served at the shelter so far. As of today, the CDS volunteers have cared for 126 child contacts.

“They did a fantastic job of getting on the child’s level, listening to them, hearing how their homes were destroyed, how they had to go into a closet and were afraid,” Martin wrote in an e-mail update this afternoon. “CDS volunteers are a calming presence in the midst of chaos for these children. One little boy had a very difficult time settling down, but when one of our male volunteers arrived, this little boy went right to him and calmed down. He felt safe.”

The additional requests for Children’s Disaster Services volunteers span a number of states affected by the recent tornado outbreak or the Mississippi River flooding, or both–from Missouri and Illinois to Tennessee and Mississippi.

In Cleveland, Tenn., which is recovering from the devastating effects of a tornado, a partner agency has requested CDS to care for children of parents coming in to a large distribution center where they can pick up necessities and items to start rebuilding their lives. “This is a different type of request for CDS and we are sending leadership to further evaluate the situation,” Martin wrote.

At the request of the American Red Cross and in response to flooding in Mississippi, the program has volunteers standing by to staff CDS centers in three very large shelters in the state. The CDS teams are ready to serve when the shelters are operational.

“Children’s Disaster Volunteers are wonderful!” Martin commented. “When the call goes out, they respond.” For more about Children’s Disaster Services, go to

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