Brethren Disaster Ministries Monitors Storm and Calls for Prayer, Children’s Disaster Services Volunteers on Alert

“CDS is busy,” reports Judy Bezon. As the storm called “Sandy” assaults the East Coast, Children’s Disaster Services has put volunteers on alert and Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are calling for prayer as they monitor the situation.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is requesting prayer for all affected by the storm, as it threatens the East Coast of the US after causing damage in a number of Caribbean nations including Haiti–where four Brethren families lost homes to flooding–as well as the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Photo by Elaine Gallimore
Above, Children’s Disaster Services at work after Hurricane Isaac. CDS volunteers are now on alert, preparing to respond to Hurricane Sandy after the storm passes and travel restrictions end.

Children’s Disaster Service prepares to respond

“We are deploying project managers to East Coast locations before Hurricane Sandy makes landfall,” reports Bezon, CDS associate director. “We’ve sent out an availability request to all our certified volunteers. When we know the needs, we’ll know who we can send.”

CDS has assigned eight project managers to cover five American Red Cross regions and help with assessing the needs of children in the many shelters that have opened. CDS volunteers will not be able to deploy until Friday at the earliest, because of travel restrictions that are in place until the storm has passed. The Red Cross anticipates the most urgent need for CDS volunteers will be in the New York and New Jersey areas, where they predict shelters will be open for some time.

Brethren Service Center is closed

In the meantime, the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is closed today and most probably tomorrow.

Roy Winter, associate executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, reported that most employees are not working today at the Brethren Service Center due to the incoming storm. Some disaster staff are working as necessary, and maintenance staff are present to monitor buildings for leaks and flooding from clogged drains.

Haitian Brethren congregation is affected

In Haiti, those who lost homes to flooding include four families from the Marin congregation of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). The Marin church is located in the greater Port-au-Prince area, close to a river that apparently moved its banks as a result of the storm.

Photo by courtesy of FEMA
A FEMA map of the path of Hurricane Sandy as it threatens the East Coast

Three of the families now are staying in the church itself, and one family is staying in a storage depot at the church, which used to be a temporary home built by Brethren Disaster Ministries after the 2010 earthquake.

Eglise des Freres Haitiens has sent some of its national staff to assess the situation in Marin and start a response. Ilexene and Michaela Alphonse have delivered rice, spaghetti, beans, and oil to the families in the Marin church.

Reports still coming in from the DR

Reports are still coming in from Brethren in the Dominican Republic, says Jeff Boshart of the Global Food Crisis Fund. In the DR, pastor Onelys Rivas has reported flooding in the Bateys, but communication with other parts of the country is still not good. It will be some time before Dominican church leaders know more about the storm’s aftermath in rural areas in the southwest of the country.

CWS ready to respond in Cuba

In related news, Church World Service is ready to ship emergency aid to Cuba where the storm left damage and four people dead, CWS said in a release. The organization is prepared to respond in Cuba as soon as damage assessments are completed by the Cuban Council of Churches.

An initial shipment of blankets and emergency hygiene and baby kits has already arrived in Florida. CWS’ initial shipment of aid to Cuba, valued at $176,490, includes 3,300 blankets, 9,000 baby kits, 1,125 hygiene kits and 1,500 school kits.

CWS also expects to be one of the agencies providing assistance following Sandy’s landfall along the Eastern corridor of the US.

More about the Church of the Brethren response to Sandy is expected once damage reports come in and staff can assess the response that is needed. Contributions to the Emergency Disaster Fund will support the church’s response to this disaster, go to .

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