But out of the devastation, compassion arose from neighbors near and far. Generous volunteers seemed to appear out of nowhere, offering their help. Some communities had so many volunteers they had to say, “Please don’t send any more people right now! We are taken care of at this point!” We praise God for generous hearts that are moved to serve others in times of disaster.
What happens a few months after a disaster happens? What about a year or two, or three years down the road? What do these communities need then? How can we help when a disaster is no longer front page news and we are distracted by the next event…and the next?
The reality is that months (and sometimes years) after a disaster, there are real, often urgent needs that are still unmet. Those needs may be actual physical or building needs, or emotionally or financially related.
World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) helps devastated communities recover in the long-term. Our staff and volunteers develop long-standing relationships with local communities and connectwith them and our network of responders at every level of disaster response. Then we work together to ensure that those in need are being taken care of long after a disaster happens.
The flood waters have receded throughout Texas and Oklahoma and other areas, for example, but World Renew DRS has only just begun to help families there rebuild their lives.
On the evening of June 22, 2015, an EF-3 tornado paved a 6-mile path through the small town of Coal City, damaging or destroying 391 homes. World Renew DRS met with Mike and Joy while conducting an early assessment of the damage shortly after the tornado. The couple took refuge under a stairs in their century-old house when the tornado hit.“I felt the air pressure change, heard glass shatter, and smelled wood as our home and trees were torn apart,” Joy said.
In September, three months after the tornado, World Renew DRS will conduct an unmet needs assessment in Coal City. Volunteers will go door to door to interview tornado survivors. These interviews will help Coal City’s recovery group know which families need help and make sure their neighbors are taken care of.
Tornadoes and floods affected almost the entire state of Oklahoma last spring. World Renew DRS sent rapid response teams to the town of Moore in April and another team to Bridge Creek in June to help families clean up the damage in and around their homes.
DRS regional managers also travelled throughout the state in June, meeting with homeowners, community leaders, and other response organizations to make assessments and offer assistance from DRS.
“Sixty-three of the state’s 77 counties have received a disaster declaration from FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency). This means that residents are able to apply for financial assistance to help them recover,” said DRS Regional Manager Carol Martin.
World Renew DRS will provide training as needed in communities that are recovering from these disasters. In some counties, the recovery efforts are already underway, while in others the work is still being organized.
Texas was also inundated with floods and ripped apart by tornadoes in May and June 2015. World Renew DRS conducted early damage assessments shortly after a Memorial Day flood, and then continued assessments by meeting with homeowners and recovery groups throughout the month of June. Construction estimators travelled to Bastrop, Texas, to help the recovery group there determine the extent of the damage and provide cost estimates for reconstruction.
In September, World Renew DRS will conduct an unmet needs assessment in four counties in the Bastrop area. The volunteers will interview disaster survivors, recording their household, emotional, and financial needs. The local recovery group will use this information to ensure that those without adequate resources get the assistance they need.
At the end of August, World Renew DRS regional managers will participate in four training opportunities. Recovery Tools and Training Workshops will be held in communities where there have been recent disasters. DRS regional managers will explain best practices in disaster response and the long-term services World Renew DRS provides.
The small town of Lusk received unexpected and severe thunderstorms in early June that brought flood water rushing through homes and businesses. World Renew DRS will provide Lusk’s officials with training in organizational capacity-building and help the local recovery group move from initial disaster response to addressing the long-term needs in their community.
These and future services, including reconstruction, are made possible by your donations! Thank you for your generous gifts. If you’d like to support these ongoing efforts, please give to Spring Storms 2015.