|Photo by Children’s Disaster Services
|Children express themselves through art activities and play, notes Children’s Disaster Services associate director Judy Bezon. “When there are ‘no instructions’ on what to paint or how to play, what is on their minds comes through in their play. So many things lost in the Oklahoma fires–trees too.”
Wildfires in Oklahoma have destroyed over 600 homes. Firefighters in eight counties struggled to contain the fires in temperatures of 95 to 100 degrees with 10 to 20 mile-per-hour winds, and drought conditions. The fires are finally under control.
Myrna Jones, the Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) representative to Oklahoma VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) participated in daily conference calls that reviewed the disaster, the response, and unmet needs of survivors.
Some of those unmet needs could be met at the American Red Cross Multi Agency Resource Centers (MARC) where nine different agencies were offering aid. Each agency had a different application and interview process. CDS volunteers cared for children in the busiest MARC in Mannford, Okla.
Reports were that as many as 85 percent of the homes affected there were uninsured. Imagine being a survivor who has just lost a home–numb, in shock, upset, anxious about where to live, what to eat, how to get clothes to wear. There is help available, but you just have to find out what you need, fill out forms, have an interview, and more. You must take your children with you, as your typical day care is unavailable. Imagine having children with you while you take up to two hours for the application process.
Fortunately, CDS had volunteers in Oklahoma, the result of a workshop last November. A total of 11 volunteers cared for children for 9 days: 6 local volunteers from Oklahoma, 3 volunteers from Kansas, and 2 from Missouri. The CDS volunteers saw a total of 69 children.
CDS is grateful there was a workshop in Tulsa last November, which enabled us to respond quickly. How many CDS volunteers are in your area? Could they respond to a local disaster? To find out more about hosting a Children’s Disaster Services workshop visit www.childrensdisasterservices.org or call 800 451-4407 option 5. Support the ministry of CDS wherever you live by donating at www.brethren.org/cds/donate .
— Judy Bezon is associate director of Children’s Disaster Services.