Brethren Disaster Ministries directs grants to CWS work on Ukraine, Haiti earthquake rebuilding, new project site in Tennessee

The Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to support the work of Church World Service (CWS) responding to the Ukraine refugee crisis; to support long-term programing and a new house construction phase of the 2021 Haiti earthquake response; and to finance the opening and initial phase of a new Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project site doing flood recovery in Waverly, Tenn.; among other recent grants.

Ukraine

A grant of $25,000 supports the CWS assessment, program development, and initial response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. CWS has existing partner organizations responding to the refugee crisis in Moldovia, Romania, and other Balkan countries. CWS staff are meeting with these partners to design and begin implementing a larger scale response, including a plan to help the CWS member denominations such as the Church of the Brethren identify unmet needs.

This initial small grant will support CWS in assessing needs and developing and beginning a response. Additional larger grants are anticipated to support the longer-term response of CWS and other organizations.

One of the first new homes being built as part of the joint response to the Aug. 14, 2021, earthquake by the Haiti Church of the Brethren/US Church of the Brethren. Photo credit Haiti Church of the Brethren

Haiti

A grant of $220,000 will fund long-term programing and a new house construction phase of the Church of the Brethren response to the 2021 Haiti earthquake. The joint Brethren Disaster Ministries and Haitian Church of the Brethren response has continued for several months, including distribution of supplies, social-emotional-spiritual programing for earthquake survivors, and medical programing provided by the Haiti Medical Project, with EDF funding.

In the community of Saut-Mathurine, a depot for building supplies and temporary housing for construction workers is being built as the basement section of a new Church of the Brethren building, which in the future will become a meeting room and housing for the pastor in addition to being a foundation for the Haitian Church and Global Mission office to work toward a new church building. By the end of 2021, work had begun on five homes for disaster survivors, with a goal of building at least 25 new homes.

Tennessee

A grant of $30,000 finances the opening and initial phase of a new Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project site for flood recovery in Waverly, Tenn. On Aug. 21-23, 2021, a line of storms and rain moved through middle Tennessee causing catastrophic flash flooding in the counties of Dickson, Hickman, Houston, and Humphreys. The city of Waverly (population 4,000) experienced the most impact. Local partners report that it only took about 12 minutes to wash away cars, cell towers, bridges, roads, and hundreds of homes. The flooding caused the death of 20 community members.

While evaluating Waverly as a potential rebuilding site, Brethren Disaster Ministries found FEMA approved 954 families for Individual Assistance funds. Even with this assistance, Disaster Case Management in the area reported 600 families with some form of need they could not meet on their own, including 250 homes that were destroyed. Six months after the flooding, one church is still serving three meals a day to survivors, many of whom do not have homes or workable kitchens in which to prepare their own meals.

This new rebuilding project will serve qualified families identified by the Humphreys County Long Term Recovery Group. Due to the reduction in volunteers, extent of the damage, and the lack of progress in the initial clean-up, there may also be a need for debris removal in addition to repairs and rebuilding of homes. Weekly volunteer groups are expected to begin arriving in April.

Maryland

A grant of $5,000 supports the Somerset County (Md.) Long Term Recovery Group as they prepare for recovery work in the Chesapeake Bay area following tidal flooding in October 2021. More than 150 families in Somerset and Dorchester counties in Maryland experienced flooding and reached out to Maryland Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (MDVOAD) for support with clean-up and help to repair and rebuild.

The Mid-Atlantic District of the Church of the Brethren is home to some Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers who are now looking at serving more frequently at this recovery location due to the closer proximity. Plans are underway to have work teams rebuilding in Somerset or Dorchester County for several days each month.

Delaware

A grant of $5,000 supports Wilmington (Del.) Church of the Brethren in long-term recovery efforts following significant flooding in the community, caused by Tropical Storm Ida last August. Record-setting rainfall caused flooding in multiple states, including in the Eleventh Street Bridge Community of Wilmington, where more than 240 homes were affected.

Ed Olkowski, a member of the Wilmington church and a trained Brethren Disaster Ministries disaster project leader, has been involved in the recovery effort by helping with the gutting of homes, attending meetings, and becoming a member representative to the effort on behalf of Atlantic Northeast District and Brethren Disaster Ministries. Other members of the church also hope to be a positive support to affected neighborhoods with the availability of grant funds.

To give financial support to these and other grants from the EDF, go to https://churchofthebrethren.givingfuel.com/bdm.

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