“This tornado was quite literally in our back yard,” said Ron Willett, director of the program, which is based nearby in Byron Center, Michigan. “Our staff and volunteers have been engaged in the response since the beginning, and we continue to be a part of the recovery efforts.”
World Renew DRS worked closely with homeowners and other organizations as the clean-up stage began, assisting 17 homeowners with picking up debris from their damaged houses. In August, World Renew DRS volunteers conducted a needs assessment, making contact with 845 households to find out what disaster-related needs remained. Thirty-eight families were in need of assistance. One of these homeowners was named Ray.
“Ray is disabled and uses public transportation called a “Go-Bus” to get around,” said Rich and Pat Grasman, needs assessment team leaders’s “Ray’s regular Go-Bus driver made a special effort to contact us to make sure that we touched base with Ray. The driver knew that Ray still needed help to repair his damaged home.
When World Renew DRS volunteers contacted him, they found that Ray was indeed in need of assistance: not only had his home been damaged in the tornado, but it was broken into during the aftermath as well. Blindness and severe back pain restricted Ray’s ability to complete home repairs on his own. He needed help with clean up as well as a disability advocate to help him navigate his everyday needs in the destruction.
“We quickly sent volunteers to clean up the damaged from the break in,” the Grassmans said. “Then we connected Ray with an advocate from the Disability Council to assist him with his daily needs and getting his yard cleaned up.”
“We are now in the long-term planning stages in responding to the tornado in the Kentwood-Wyoming areas,” says Fred Visser, World Renew DRS project manager for the recovery effort. “We are working alongside the community recovery group in Kentwood and Wyoming, lending our assistance and experience doing disaster response—something World Renew DRS has done for over 40 years.”
When disaster strikes, communities work together to share resources and expertise to meet the needs of their residents. World Renew DRS has been working with Ideal Park Christian Reformed Church, Kelloggsville Christian Reformed Church, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way, Volunteers in service, and city leaders in Kentwood and Wyoming in this response.
To support the recovery efforts, donate today at worldrenew.net/drs.