Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Children's Disaster Services closes out response to Gustav.

Children's Disaster Services is closing out its response to Hurricane Gustav. Meanwhile, Hurricane Ike has developed into a powerful storm that devastated parts of the Caribbean, and may threaten Texas.

Children's Disaster Services collaborated with the American Red Cross to determine where volunteers were most needed in responding to Gustav. As the hurricane made landfall, Roy Winter, executive director for Brethren Disaster Ministries made an early departure from National Older Adult Conference to manage the Children's Disaster Services response on the ground in Mississippi and Louisiana. Staff at the disaster response offices including Children's Disaster Services director Judy Bezon, and coordinator LethaJoy Martin, kept the operation going by deploying volunteers, communicating with the Red Cross or FEMA, and trouble-shooting issues at the various child care sites.

As of late last week, six childcare volunteers were working in shelters on the Mississippi coast; 10 were working in a Super Shelter in Shreveport, La.; and 11 were working in a Super Shelter in Alexandria, La. Most of those centers are closing as of today, Winter said.

In other news, Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, visited flood areas in Minnesota and Iowa last week. He first stopped at the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in Rushford, Minn., where volunteers have nearly completed three homes, and have just finished drywall on a fourth. The slab is expected to be poured for a fifth house this week. Brethren Disaster Ministries plans to completely rebuild seven new homes for flood survivors in Rushford by the end of this year. In addition, volunteers have repaired more than 30 homes in the Rushford area since the project opened, following flash floods a year ago.

In Iowa, which suffered severe floods and tornadoes this spring, Wolgemuth met with Northern Plains District executive minister Tim Button-Harrison and the district's disaster response coordinator Gary Gahm, offering resources to aid the district's response to needs as they arise.

In Haiti the three recent hurricanes--Gustav, Hanna, and Ike--all did considerable damage, according to a report from Ludovic St. Fleur. He serves as coordinator of the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti, and pastors Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla., and the Orlando Haitian Fellowship.

The hurricanes affected the Port-au-Prince area where the five Church of the Brethren congregations and seven preaching points are located. Flooding was the main problem in Port-au-Prince, where one pastor, DeLouis St. Louis, lost his home. Several members of congregations also lost household items. "The water came and took their belongings. They didn't have time for evacuation," St. Fleur said. Congregations also were not able to hold services on Sunday, Sept. 7, because flooded areas made travel difficult.

Power has been cut off to much of the region, and cell phone access has been intermittent, so St. Fleur said he does not yet have a complete picture of total impact of the storms for members of the Haitian congregations. "Please keep my people in your prayers," he asked.

Source: 9/10/2008 Newsline

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