|Photo by courtesy of Bob Roach|
|A Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) team has been at work in Moore, Okla., following the tornado that devastated the town on May 20. The team is shown here with toys that will help children affected by the disaster use play and creative expression to begin recovering.|
Volunteers from Children’s Disaster Services, a program within Brethren Disaster Ministries, are at work in Moore, Okla., helping care for children and families affected by the tornado that devastated the town on May 20. As of Wednesday morning, the volunteers have provided care for 95 children.
In related news, Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have directed a $4,000 grant from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund to support the Church World Service relief effort in Oklahoma. The grant responds to a CWS appeal for the affected communities. CWS has been communicating with local, state, and National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), along with local groups, to assess the need for supplies such as clean-up buckets, blankets, and hygiene kits. CWS anticipates need for long-term recovery support and training and expects to provide long-term recovery groups with seed grants.
Brethren program cares for children
Over the long weekend, two CDS teams initially set up two child care areas at Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) at Little Axe Elementary School and West Moore High School. The the school sites were two of the four MARCs that were opened in the Moore area on Saturday, May 25.
The CDS volunteers in Oklahoma have included Bob and Peggy Roach, Ken Kline, Donna Savage, Beryl Cheal, Douetta Davis, Bethany Vaughn, Josh Leu, and Virginia Holcomb.
Established in 1980, CDS works cooperatively with FEMA and the American Red Cross to provide care for children and families following disasters, through the work of trained and certified volunteers who set up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, the volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by disasters.
The CDS teams served several children at the Little Axe center on Saturday and Sunday, before that center closed. The two teams were then consolidated at the West Moore High School center.
The CDS team has received comments of appreciation for their work. “Several Red Cross people came over and expressed appreciation ‘for the great job you are doing,’” Bob Roach wrote in his report to Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter. FEMA staff stopped by the CDS child care center “and praised the program and what we were doing at the MARC,” Roach wrote.
The group also took part in a moment of silence on Monday, May 27, at 2:56 p.m., to mark the one week memorial of the tornado.
Donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund will support the response by Children’s Disaster Services. Go to www.brethren.org/edf or send a check to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.
NCC leaders express grief over the tragedy
The National Council of Churches Governing Board, which was meeting the day after the tornado struck Moore, issued a statement expressing “agony and grief” in the wake of the natural disaster. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of those at the meeting.
“There are no words to express the agony and grief that lie in the wake of killer tornadoes this week in Oklahoma,” the statement said, in part. “As we gather today as representatives of the 37 member communions of the National Council of Churches, we and the millions of members in our congregations weep for those who have lost loved ones and property. Our prayers go out especially for the bereaved whose losses cannot be overestimated. There are few things in life more painful or more difficult to understand than natural disasters over which we have no control. We beseech a loving God to be a powerful presence in the lives of those who have lost so much.”