By Sharon Billings Franzén
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is deploying teams to respond to Hurricane Ida and to provide care for children of Afghan evacuees, after a busy few weeks monitoring several deployment possibilities as well as preparing for multiple trainings to continue to prepare volunteers to respond to the special needs of children in disaster and trauma-related situations.
Hurricane Ida response
Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29 as a Category 4 storm and was the second most intense hurricane on record to hit the state. Ironically, it arrived on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. By that evening, CDS was already planning a deployment with the Red Cross as they set up shelters to care for evacuated and displaced residents.
The first CDS team of six volunteer caregivers were ready to travel to a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, La., on Wednesday, Sept. 1, although some were delayed due to Ida’s effect on air travel as it continued to move northeast bringing additional rain, wind, and flooding. CDS volunteers are trained to be flexible and they all arrived by the next day, Sept. 2, ready to provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in their childcare center.
CDS is preparing to deploy additional teams as they are needed.
Afghan evacuation response
As events in Afghanistan unfolded over the past few weeks, the Church of the Brethren has been carefully and prayerfully monitoring the situation, seeking ways to respond. Of particular interest are the anticipated needs of Afghan evacuees entering the United States through specific airports and then traveling on to one of seven military facilities for processing. One possible response was identified, to provide childcare for the families who have been through so much trauma and who will be facing such uncertainty as they begin new lives in the US.
CDS is grateful to have the opportunity to do that through a partnership with Save the Children. A team of seven CDS volunteers will be deployed on Saturday, Sept. 4, to New Mexico to care for Afghan children in a military facility. The initial team will serve for two weeks. Additional teams may be needed to continue work at that or another facility.
Save the Children also has requested CDS volunteers to join their effort to care for children of Afghan families arriving through Dulles International Airport in Virginia, as they await travel to one of the processing centers. CDS also has been contacted by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency about volunteer availability in case childcare is needed for Afghan evacuees arriving through another airport.
— Sharon Billings Franzén is Office Manager for Brethren Disaster Ministries
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