Thursday, April 22, 2010

Brethren part of effort for flood-affected Cedar Rapids.

The sounds of hammers and saws echoed along the Cedar River in Iowa on April 12 as volunteers from across the US and Canada started work to help families return to their homes in a new rebuild project directed by humanitarian agency Church World Service (CWS) and carried out in partnership with a number of denominational disaster relief programs.

National partners include Brethren Disaster Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA, Catholic Charities USA, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Lutheran Disaster Response, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and Week of Compassion.

"It’s been almost two years since the Cedar River flood forced out these families. No one knows more than they do that that’s just too long to be away from home," said Bonnie Vollmering, CWS associate director for domestic emergency response. "We’re working as hard as possible to help in such a trying time."

Dubbed "Neighborhood: Cedar Rapids," the Iowa project builds on the award-winning CWS rebuilding project, "Neighborhood: New Orleans." That effort completely repaired more than a dozen families’ homes following Hurricane Katrina in a historic Lake Pontchartrain community.

Together with Iowa-based partners Block by Block, the Linn Area Long-Term Recovery Coalition, the Presbytery of East Iowa, and Lutheran Services in Iowa, 10 national faith-based disaster response agencies including Brethren Disaster Ministries will bring more than 700 volunteers to Cedar Rapids over six weeks.

Many of the rebuilding and repair efforts will focus on the hard-hit Cedar Rapids neighborhood of Time Check, where the local longterm recovery partners still have extensive cases of need. Despite ongoing efforts to help families put the flood behind them, there are still plenty of bare walls and water lines serving as reminders of June 14, 2008.

"There are many Cedar Rapids families who could return home but for a few major repairs," Vollmering said. "We intentionally haven’t set a specific number of homes to be completed because we want to see exactly how many we can repair well in six weeks’ time."

Block by Block and LALTRC identified the homes to be repaired. CWS and its national disaster response partners are providing volunteers, some donated materials, and other support.

"We had such a success in New Orleans that we had to try it in Cedar Rapids," CWS executive director John L. McCullough said. "Our hope is that the people of Cedar Rapids will feel like they haven’t been forgotten, and we can help at least some of those affected find a new sense of normalcy after such a devastating disaster."

-- This release was provided by Lesley Crosson and Jan Dragin of Church World Service.

Source: 4/22/2010 Newsline

No comments: