Disaster Response to Sandy Begins, Brethren Still Without Power in Some Areas

As the relief effort following Hurricane Sandy gets underway, Brethren Disaster Ministries is encouraging Brethren to consider donating to the Emergency Disaster Fund (www.brethren.org/edf ) to support a Brethren response including deployment of Children’s Disaster Services volunteers.

Another way to give to the relief effort is through donations of Church World Service (CWS) relief kits including clean-up buckets. CWS has announced that it is focusing its relief effort on those most affected by the storm in New Jersey, and also sending material aid to those affected in Cuba.

By e-mail, some Brethren in affected areas report still being without power, and having to deal with other after-effects of the giant storm.

Donations to EDF support Brethren relief work

Donors should keep in mind the most effective and useful donation is a financial contribution, said Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. He noted, however, that “efforts to assemble CWS clean-up buckets are extremely important and encouraged.”

“Unfortunately there are already reports of mounds of used clothing piling up,” Wolgemuth said by e-mail this morning. “As individuals and congregations reach out to survivors, they should be certain that any in-kind donations being sent to the disaster affected area have been specifically requested by a response organization.

“Recovery from such an event will be long-term and financial support will be important as resources often diminish and media coverage wanes.”

Support the Church of the Brethren response at www.brethren.org/edf .

Children’s Disaster Services to deploy volunteers

Judy Bezon, associate director of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), is on site in affected areas of New York and New Jersey states, coordinating with the Red Cross to assess where CDS volunteers are most needed. Several volunteers are traveling to the area today, eight more are to arrive tomorrow, and disaster staff are engaged in recruiting 18 more for deployment shortly after that.

CDS’ trained and certified volunteers set up childcare facilities in shelters and other sites in cooperation with FEMA and the Red Cross, providing care for children and families affected by disasters.

Bezon is expected to provide more information on the Children’s Disaster Services response later this week.

CWS kits and clean-up buckets help the effort

The Emergency Clean-Up Bucket is just one of the relief kits shipped from the Brethren Service Center on behalf of CWS and other ecumenical partners. The denomination’s Materials Resources program does the work of collecting, processing, and warehousing the relief materials at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

CWS is encouraging donations of all of its kits, however the clean-up bucket is one kit many are focusing on because it provides a home owner or volunteer tools for basic cleaning after a disaster like a storm or flood. The kit includes items such as sponges, brushes, gloves, and detergent, all contained in a five-gallon plastic bucket with a resealable lid. Find a list of contents at www.churchworldservice.org/site/PageServer?pagename=kits_emergency . The general link for CWS kits is www.churchworldservice.org/kits .

Already this morning, district disaster coordinators are distributing an appeal for clean-up buckets to Brethren congregations. In Southern Ohio District, disaster coordinators Dick and Pat Via have put together an effort “to try to fund the largest shipment we can make as quickly as possible” with the help of the district’s Bucket Committee. They have announced a Bucket Assembly on Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren.

Some Brethren still feeling storm’s after effects

“A number of persons from across the country have been wondering about the effects of Hurricane Sandy on congregations in Atlantic Northeast District,” wrote district executive minister Craig Smith by e-mail today. “We have been checking with each of our congregations in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, as well as the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania. It appears at this time that there have been some power outages, tree damage, and minor water problems, but no significant structural damage…. Reports are still coming in.”

Among other Brethren still without power today is Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, which shared by e-mail that Wednesday programs at the church have been canceled, although a trick or treating event for the junior highs is being held at the pastor’s home.

CWS sends relief materials to New Jersey

Church World Service has said its initial response to Sandy will target those in immediate need in New Jersey and in Cuba. An expansion of the response is anticipated, as CWS assesses recovery needs along with partners, said a release.

At the request of the New Jersey Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NJ VOAD), CWS will ship the following items this week to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey: 2,000 blankets, 3,000 school kits, 3,000 hygiene kits, 300 clean-up buckets, and 100 baby layette kits.

This and other likely shipments will require CWS to restock its supply of emergency relief items. In addition to clean-up buckets, according to CWS Director of Development and Humanitarian Assistance Donna Derr, the agency also is concerned to restock its supply of blankets.

Church of the Brethren members and congregations are encouraged to donate to the Emergency Disaster Fund, which supports the response efforts of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services. Go to www.brethren.org/edf .