Recent grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) total $411,400 for disaster relief work around the world. The fund is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board.
A grant of $350,000 for longterm recovery work in southern Asia following the Dec. 2004 tsunami was announced at the General Board meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 1. The grant is an additional allocation for relief work related to the tsunami, which is being coordinated by Church World Service (CWS) and ACT International. Previous allocations to this project total $320,000.
An allocation of $50,000 responds to an appeal from CWS following an earthquake in Indonesia on the island of Java. The funds will help to immediately provide food, potable water, shelter, sanitation, and health and medical services, as well as disaster preparedness and advocacy. Additional grant requests for this project are expected in the future.
The sum of $5,000 has been given for a CWS appeal after summer storms caused flooding and damage in many states along the east coast. The money will help assist communities organize for recovery work, address unmet needs, and care for the most vulnerable impacted by the flooding.
A grant of $4,000 will provide emergency food to help prevent crisis and famine relief following drought and crop failures in Tanzania, in response to a CWS appeal.
An allocation of $2,400 continues support for emergency response work after landslides and floods affected a village in Guatemala. Previous grants totaling $20,800 have provided emergency food, helped rebuild a bridge, and aided in the transport coffee beans to market. The new grant will be used to purchase a three-month supply of corn. The distribution and work is being handled and directed in Guatemala by staff of the General Board’s Global Mission Partnerships: Brethren Volunteer Service worker Rebecca Allen and Latin America specialist Tom Benevento.
In other disaster relief news, Brethren Disaster Response is continuing two projects to repair and rebuild homes following hurricanes in 2004 and 2005.
A project in Lucedale, Miss., opened in mid-January, repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Since the project opened, nearly 200 volunteers have built four new homes and repaired and cleaned up more than 30 others, according to coordinator Jane Yount. “The official death toll has climbed to 1,836, making Katrina the deadliest hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. Katrina is also the costliest hurricane in US history, with $75 billion in damages,” Yount reported. “An estimated 350,000 homes were destroyed and many thousands more damaged.”
Brethren Disaster Response also is continuing a rebuilding project in Pensacola, Fla., following damage caused by Hurricane Ivan in Sept. 2004, then by Hurricane Dennis in July 2005. Some 75,000 homes were affected. “Our presence is still very much needed there,” Yount said.
In addition to the two ongoing projects, the program is working to develop two new repair and rebuilding project sites, and is continuing to consider the feasibility of operating a modular home project in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina, with a modular home assembly site in southern Virginia still under consideration as well. “Our goal for Gulf Coast recovery is to build one new house a week and repair three,” Yount said.
To meet the need for additional leadership, the program is announcing three positions for longterm project directors who can work for five or more months over the period of a year. A monthly stipend of $1,000 per individual or $1,500 per couple is offered.
Two trainings will be offered this fall for 30 new disaster project directors and disaster project assistants. The trainings will be hands-on events at the Florida and Mississippi project sites: Oct 1-14 in Pensacola, Fla., and Oct. 22-Nov. 4 in Lucedale, Miss. Brethren Disaster Response also hopes to recruit Brethren Volunteer Service workers to serve for one year as disaster project assistants, site hosts, or household managers.
The additional projects will require more vehicles and heavy equipment as well, including heavy duty trucks, passenger vans, passenger cars, and a small front loader or backhoe. Donations of this equipment is being sought.
Yount added a call to prayer in her most recent update on Brethren Disaster Response. “Faced with dismal hurricane predictions for this season,” she said, “let us pray for God’s mercy and protection for vulnerable populations both within and outside our borders.”