After an EF-1 tornado traveled 6.5 miles through communities south of Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Sunday July 6th, Roscoe and Deb Gist did not know how they would recover.  Both Roscoe and Deb live with physical disabilities and have limited mobility. Fallen trees blocked their exit from their house and they had to be physically lifted over the downed trees and brought to a safe location on Monday morning. They had no idea how they would clear their home from this debris in order to begin rebuilding their lives.

World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) began responding to this tornado almost immediately after it hit. On Monday, July ,7 World Renew DRS early response coordinators surveyed the situation to find out who was in need of help and then deployed a team of rapid response volunteers. These volunteers have been hard at work since Tuesday, clearing downed trees from homes and driveways and helping families like the Gists. 

The Gists were identified through Ideal Park CRC, a Christian Reformed Church that was affected by this tornado. The rapid response team had many trees to clear as the entire driveway at the Gist home was blocked by downed trees and their home was barely visible.

As trees on the Gists’ property were being cut and cleared, Deb had a request.

“She asked the rapid response team to cut a narrow slab from one of the down trees and to carve a cross in it with a chain saw,” said volunteer Rich Grasman.  “As she held onto it tightly, said she would seal this and keep it as a symbol of the God’s grace poured out on them.”

“We are grateful for the willingness of World Renew volunteers to help us during this time,” said Roscoe Gist.

“We are glad to be able to help our neighbors. It’s amazing to see how the gift of service inspires others to give back,” said Ron Willett, World Renew DRS director. “A group from Ideal Park CRC is actually heading to New Jersey next week. They will be doing reconstruction work for a community devastated by Super-Storm Sandy.”

World Renew DRS is working in cooperation with local officials, community leaders, and other response organizations to plan for long-term recovery.

For those interested in helping with future reconstruction projects, please contact or 800-848-5818.

Help families affected by U.S. tornadoes. Donate to "Spring Storms 2014".

Or make out your check to World Renew DRS and write “Spring Storms 2014” in the memo line.

World Renew US
1700 28th St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508
Tel: 1-800-552-7972

World Renew Canada
3475 Mainway
P.O. Box 5070 STN LCD
Burlington, Ontario, L7R 3Y8
Tel: 1-800-730-3490