By Michael D. Scalzi
Five Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers deployed this week to the Little Rock, Ark., vicinity after a series of three tornados hit the area on March 31. One EF3 tornado, with winds of 165 miles per hour, touched down west of Little Rock and stayed on the ground for 34 miles, causing extensive damage.
The Red Cross requested that CDS provide childcare centers in four Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) over five days, beginning on April 21. A MARC is a place where disaster relief agencies and other service providers, both private and public, can meet under one roof to provide relief assistance to the survivors of a disaster. Childcare centers set up in MARCs by CDS volunteers provide a safe and comforting place where children can play and receive emotional support while their parents or guardians are working with the available agencies to obtain needed assistance.
CDS does not usually respond immediately after a tornado to work in shelters because the number of people needing sheltering is often low, and the duration of their need is often shorter than in other more widespread disasters. Tornado damage, although generally very severe and often catastrophic, is more contained so survivors often have local accommodation options that they prefer rather than a shelter. MARCs provide an opportunity for CDS to meet the needs of survivors who are just beginning to grasp the concept of recovery even while the traumatic experience is still fresh in their minds.
Please pray… For the CDS volunteers deploying to Arkansas, and all the children and families they will serve there.
In Arkansas, CDS volunteers served first at a MARC at the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Jacksonville. They will provide childcare over the weekend at a MARC in Little Rock. During their final two days, the CDS childcare centers will be set up at MARCs in the town of Wynne, at Union Valley Baptist Church and Assembly of God Church.
Children’s Disaster Services volunteers are trained in disaster childcare and are certified as childcare givers by CDS. They are often called on a moment’s notice and frequently asked to deploy within 24 to 48 hours. For the Arkansas deployment, volunteers stepped up quickly and were on flights to Little Rock by the next day. CDS is always grateful to those willing to respond.
The tornado that hit Little Rock is estimated to be the largest since 1999. It caused five fatalities–one in Little Rock and four in Wynne–and injured more than 50 people. More than 2,600 structures are said to have been damaged in Little Rock and extensive structural damage also occurred in Jacksonville and Wynne.
For more information about Children’s Disaster Services, which is a program within Brethren Disaster Ministries, go to www.brethren.org/cds or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Donate to support this work financially at https://churchofthebrethren.givingfuel.com/bdm.
— Michael D. Scalzi is program assistant for Childrens Disaster Services. Sharon Franzén also contributed to this report.
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