Newsline Special: Update on hurricane response

Church of the Brethren Newsline
September 15, 2017

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs’” (Matthew 19:14).

CDS volunteers welcome children at a shelter in Texas, where they were serving children and families affected by Hurricane Harvey. Photo courtesy of CDS.

More CDS teams go to Florida, Brethren Disaster Ministries
assesses post-hurricane needs

Two additional teams of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers are traveling to Florida today, to join the volunteers who were positioned in the state in advance of Hurricane Irma. CDS is expected to close out its response in Texas following Hurricane Harvey, as of this weekend.

In related news, Brethren Disaster Ministries continues to monitor needs in the US and Caribbean following the hurricanes, and disaster staff are working to coordinate efforts with ecumenical partners and other humanitarian aid organizations.

The staff are warning of an urgent need for donations of more clean-up buckets, one of the Church World Service (CWS) “Gift of the Heart” kits.

Children’s Disaster Services

“The Texas CDS response will end after this weekend,” reported Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. “In total, 41 volunteers supported the CDS response to Harvey, working at 9 different shelters, all large, some mega shelters,” he said via e-mail.

“The situation is still difficult in Florida,” he added. “An even larger response is expected in Florida with dozens of volunteers and hundreds of children. Certified CDS volunteers are currently needed in Florida. Please contact or 410-635-8735 if you are available.”

CDS associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller has been in Florida since before Irma hit, and is personally working with CDS teams placed in shelters there. The teams pre-positioned in Florida are being joined by two more CDS teams today.

CDS also is on alert to provide volunteers to assist families being repatriated from Caribbean islands that have been devastated by Hurricane Irma. The organization is on call to send volunteers to Thurgood Marshall International airport (Baltimore Washington International, or BWI), at the invitation of Maryland VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). The Maryland state government requested the assistance with supporting these families.

For this emergency repatriation effort, “CDS is written into this plan to provide childcare as the planes arrive and families wait until their next flight or are taken to local housing options,” said Winter.

“Hurricane Irma also did catastrophic damage to many islands,” he said. “The only option for these families is to temporarily relocate while they decide how to rebuild their lives.”

CDS volunteers have shared a poem written by one of the children they have been caring for in Florida (see below).

Brethren Disaster Services

Staff of Brethren Disaster Services have been getting in touch with Brethren in areas affected by Hurricane Irma, as well as areas of the western states affected by wildfires.

So far, no serious damage or injuries have been reported by Brethren in the Caribbean. “Brethren communities in Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico report relatively minor damage and flooding from Hurricane Irma,” said an update. “Power outages, crop loss, and localized flooding will impact the poorer communities most. BDM will work with local churches to support the most vulnerable people and help with recovery.”

In Florida, Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have been assessing needs with help from organizations like the National VOAD, while also checking in with leaders in Atlantic Southeast District and other Brethren across the state. District disaster coordinator John Mueller and district executive Terry Grove have been “working on contacting congregations to see about vulnerable populations and damage,” reported Jenn Dorsch, director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. The district’s Camp Ithiel reported to Winter that “people, power, and buildings are okay,” but tree limbs are down everywhere.

In California, where wildfires have been raging, “all is well” among Brethren, said Pacific Southwest District disaster coordinators Lindy and Lois Frantz, in an e-mail response to Brethren Disaster Ministries. “The fires are causing smoke in our area, but they are far enough away not to be a danger to either the Modesto or Empire Churches of the Brethren. One did come rather close to our church camp up in the high Sierra, but it was saved.”

Donations, clean-up buckets, and other ways to help

Materials Resources staff prepare shipments for Texas. Photo courtesy of Terry Goodger.

Brethren Disaster Ministries continues to emphasize that the best way to help hurricane survivors, and to support the work of responders like Children’s Disaster Services, is through monetary donations.

One such donation has been received from the Brethren Church, which has given $4,000 to the work of CDS in Texas and Louisiana responding to Hurricane Harvey. In a letter to Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele, Brethren Church executive director Steven Cole wrote, “The Brethren Church does not have a recovery organization as you do, but wanted to be part of the work in the immediate aftermath of the storm. We know you all steward your resources well and we are happy to partner with you in this work.”

Gifts to the hurricane response effort may be given to the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) of the Church of the Brethren. Give online at Send checks to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

CWS has purchased supplies for more clean-up buckets, Winter said. “We will be assembling these at the Brethren Service Center next week…. Buckets are still a huge need,” he said. The CWS bucket kits are designed to provide a family with the supplies needed to clean up a home that has been flooded or has suffered water damage. The CWS kits are received at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for processing and shipping by the Material Resources staff of the Church of the Brethren. Learn more about putting together CWS kits at . Send or bring completed kits to the Brethren Service Center, 601 Main Street, New Windsor, MD 21776-0188. Contact 410-635-8797 or for more information.

“When the roads become clear, volunteers will want to flock to Texas and Florida with a desire to help families recover,” disaster staff warned. “In most cases, such unaffiliated volunteers will be turned away.” Brethren Disaster Ministries is developing partners in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida to enable volunteers to support clean-up and future rebuilding efforts. Responding to any disaster is a long-term effort, however, and the response and recovery from these hurricanes will take many years. Watch for more information as opportunities are developed this fall to serve Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma survivors.

Brethren Disaster Ministries currently has active rebuilding sites helping homeowners affected by historic flooding and storms in Missouri in December 2015 and May 2017, and homeowners affected by Hurricane Matthew in South Carolina in October 2016. Sign up to serve these survivors by contacting your District Disaster Coordinator or the Brethren Disaster Ministries office to schedule a trip. Contact Terry Goodger at or 410-635-8730 for more information.

Those interested in becoming trained and certified volunteers with Children’s Disaster Services may find out about the next CDS trainings at .

‘You were the shadow to my life’: A child’s poem

This poem/song is by a 7-year-old who was cared for in a CDS childcare center in one of the shelters in Fort Myers, Fla. A transcription of the hand-written original is followed by a “translation” shared by the CDS volunteers:


you were the shadow to my life
did you tell oh anoter star you
fade away I’m fraded aded
sight was wanna see us
alive were are you now

alantis under the sea under
were are you now another the sea
dream the monsters
running wild inside of me I’m
faded I’m faded so lost
I’m faded these waters never
leting go a deeper dive

it torn our silence of the
sea I’m breating alive
were are you nou under
the brites of faded night,
set my heart on fire were
are you now were are you now
were are you now!


You were the shadow to my life
Did you tell oh another star
You fade away
I’m afraid
Added sight was
Wanna see us alive
Where are you now

Atlantis under the sea under
Where are you now
Another the sea
Dream the monsters
Running wild inside of me I’m
Afraid I’m afraid so lost
I’m afraid these waters
Never letting go a deeper dive

It torn our silence of the sea
I’m breathing alive
Where are you now
Under the brights of afraid night,
Set my heart on fire
Where are you now
Where are you now
Where are you now!

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Sharon Billings Franzén, Sherry Chastain, Jenn Dorsch, Kathy Fry-Miller, Roy Winter, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to the editor at .

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