Brethren Give Grants for Tornado Outbreak, Syria; CDS Begins Care for Affected Children

KS Div. of Emergency Mgt.
The town of Harveyville, KS was heavily damaged by a Feb. 28, 2012 tornado.

The tornado outbreak that began on Feb. 28-29 and continued March 2-3 was one of the largest ever recorded in March, according to Brethren Disaster Ministries. The program has requested a grant from the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund in response to a plea from Church World Service (CWS) for funds for affected communities. Another EDF grant has been given to aid those affected by violence in Syria.

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is sending volunteers to Multi Agency Resource Centers in Moscow, Ohio, and Crittenden, Ky., and waiting for confirmation of another location in Missouri to provide care for children affected by the storms. “It is anticipated that these MARCs will be open for four to five days or longer if the need persists,” reports associate director Judy Bezon. In these locations, teams of trained and certified CDS volunteers will care for children while parents apply for assistance and attend to other needs.

Photo by Lorna Grow
CDS volunteer Pearl Miller reads with a child in Joplin, Missouri, following severe tornadoes

Brethren Disaster Ministries has been contacting the affected Church of the Brethren districts about local needs and how the

program can support any local or regional efforts. Preliminary reports indicate that there were no Brethren congregations in the affected areas.

“BDM does not normally provide direct assistance in the form of cleanup or chainsaw crews on a national level,” wrote coordinator Jane Yount in an update, “as there are a number of other organizations whose mission and structure is well suited for this type of work–just as BDM is well suited to repair and rebuild homes.

“Many people are wondering how they can help. Following a major disaster such as this, it is always advisable to follow the lead of the affected communities with regard to volunteers and donations. At this time state and local emergency operations are underway in many areas, and access to some of them is limited or prohibited. The message coming from the affected areas is ‘Cash is King.’ Monetary donations are currently needed and will continue to be needed to ensure a sustained recovery and rebuilding of these communities. Unsolicited in-kind donations can clog the system and prevent the most needed supplies from reaching the disaster survivors quickly.”

It is still too early to tell how Brethren Disaster Ministries may be involved in long-term rebuilding efforts. The program is supporting immediate response efforts by CWS through the EDF grant of $7,500. The money will help CWS respond in 13 states.

CWS staff have been monitoring the situation, communicating with response organizations, assessing needs, and arranging shipments of material aid. As local long-term recovery groups are forming in affected areas, CWS will support these groups through training and small seed grants to assist with start-up costs. The total goal for the CWS appeal is currently $110,000.

CWS reported the following worst-hit areas (numbers are preliminary):

— Indiana: 13 fatalities, with the city of Marysville heavily damaged by one of 16 reported tornadoes in the state

— Tennessee: 11 tornadoes, 3 fatalities, 40 people injured, at least 5 counties affected

— Kentucky: 32 tornadoes, 12 fatalities, flash flooding reported in Bell County

— Alabama: at least 16 tornadoes, 5 injuries reported, as many as 40 homes destroyed and several hundred more damaged. “Some of the houses damaged were just recently rebuilt from damage incurred by tornadoes in April 2011,” CWS said.

— Ohio: 9 tornadoes, 3 people dead, 8 injured.

In the Feb. 28-29 outbreak, tornadoes caused significant damage in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois:

— Missouri: 17 counties hit by tornadoes, 3 people killed, more than 100 injured, in Cape Girardeau County as many as 490 homes damaged and 25 destroyed, in Kimberling City (Stone County) 22 homes destroyed and 54 with major damage, in Branson (Taney County) 41 homes destroyed, in Le Clede County 1 home destroyed with 8 sustaining major damage and 85 suffering minor damage, in Phelps County 22 homes damaged

— Kansas: town of Harveyville most severely damaged with 1 person killed and 14 injured, 2 houses destroyed, 28 houses with major damage, 36 with moderate damage, 3 injuries reported in Labette County, 1 person injured in Wilson County, some damage reported in 14 other Kansas counties

— Illinois: tornadoes throughout the lower third of the state, 500 houses affected, town of Harrisburg hit by a major category-4 tornado in which 6 people died, 100 homes were destroyed, and 200 sustained major damage.

“BDM will post further updates as things progress,” Yount wrote. “Please keep all tornado survivors and response workers in your prayers.” Find her current update at . Support the grant from the Emergency Disaster Fund by donating online at .

In related news:

The EDF grant of $8,000 for Syria responds to a Church World Service appeal following an 11-month political crisis in the Middle Eastern country. The related violence has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of people displaced within Syria and thousands more seeking refuge in neighboring countries. The money supports the work of CWS and its partner, International Orthodox Christian Charities, in responding with food packages, relief kits, household supplies, and training for community health care workers.

Brethren Disaster Ministries requested an EDF grant of $15,000 for the Ashland City, Tenn., rebuilding site established following flooding in May 2010. This grant supports the completion of the work in Cheatham County and surrounding areas. Funds will underwrite operational expenses related to volunteer support, including housing, food, travel expenses incurred on site, training, tools, and equipment, and will pay to transport tools and equipment to other BDM sites or headquarters once the work at Ashland City is completed. Prior grants for this project total $85,000.

An EDF grant of $2,500 has responded to a Church World Service appeal following a series of severe storms in several southern states in January. The grant helped pay for CWS to process and ship material goods, and for long-term recovery group start-up grants and training.

Brethren Disaster Ministries needs skilled volunteer electricians to help rebuild homes in Minot, N.D., where flooding last June damaged or destroyed thousands of homes. Since the flood, the city of Minot has struggled to meet the needs of many of its residents. BDM is working closely with FEMA and other National VOAD member organizations to recruit and mobilize volunteers to assist with specific work. A shortage of local licensed electricians has created a backlog of work that threatens to hinder the recovery. BDM seeks electricians to do residential wiring in flood damaged homes. The need is immediate, with 90 homes waiting for wiring to be completed before reconstruction can continue. Specific criteria for volunteer electricians: needed immediately and through the next few months; must be Master level or Journeyman; must be willing to serve for a minimum of two weeks. Through BDM’s partnerships, selected individuals will be provided with round-trip transportation, food, and lodging. Call the BDM office at 800-451-4407 for additional details.

(Roy Winter, Zach Wolgemuth, Judy Bezon, and Jane Yount contributed to this report.)

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