As we draw the calendar year to a close, 2011 is adding up to being one of the most costly in terms of disaster in recent years—both in lives lost and damage done.
In North America, World Renew’s Disaster Response Services (DRS) is responding in communities affected by these disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods.
When a cluster of hundreds of tornadoes swept across the south central US last April, World Renew-DRS responded quickly in North Carolina and Alabama. After providing Rapid Response Teams and early assessments, World Renew’s skilled “green shirt” volunteers began to assess the survivors’ unmet needs around Birmingham in June.
In outlying Walker County, the 1,200-resident community of Parrish was still recovering from the twister that had raked over residents’ homes and businesses months before.
One of the families needing help last summer was the Alvarado’s, a mother and disabled son, Dennis, who had received some assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but couldn’t afford to complete the repairs needed to make their home livable on their own. After months without assistance, the Alvarados thought they would have to move.
Working alongside members of the Walker County Long Term Recovery Committee, World Renew volunteers scrubbed, painted, and replaced the roof, floor, walls, and windows in the Alvarado home over a six week period. “It’s a whole new house,” Mrs. Alvarado said.
The volunteers also installed a fully accessible bathroom that Dennis could roll into and out of in his wheelchair.
“Seeing the relief in Joan and Dennis’s eyes when the handicapped shower was completed was moving,” site managers Sid and Jenny Byma said. “Dennis could finally have a real bath after seven years of ‘making do’.”
World Renew -DRS volunteers have been active after the spring storm season of 2011 in several Alabama locations, including completing assessments in Walker County, Franklin and Marion Counties, and the city of Birmingham. Elsewhere, World Renew -DRS is responding to storms in Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, Newfoundland, the Dakotas, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, and other locations in 2011.
“We’re here because we want to show Christ’s love by serving our neighbors,” the Bymas say, “not just in rebuilding homes, but also in helping to rebuild lives as we serve the Lord together.”