Brethren Disaster Ministries Opens New Hurricane Katrina Site

“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″

(April 7, 2008) — Brethren Disaster Ministries has opened a new Hurricane Katrina rebuilding site in East New Orleans (Arabi), La. An allocation of $25,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) helps fund the new project site, where volunteers will rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by Katrina.

The rebuilding site in Pearl River, La., will be moved to Arabi on the weekend of April 11-13. “The reason for this making this move is that there is little work left at the Pearl River site,” explained Brethren Disaster Ministries coordinator Jane Yount. “Volunteers have been traveling across Lake Pontchartrain down to East Orleans daily. It will be much more convenient and better stewardship for both the project directors and the volunteers to be housed closer to where they are working.”

The new proejct site has been dubbed “NOLA East.” Volunteer groups and project directors who had been scheduled to work at Pearl River will go instead to project headquarters in Arabi, and will continue to work on cases provided by the Southeast Louisiana Recovery Network. The work will be mainly in the Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes.

Both the NOLA East project and the current rebuilding project in Chalmette, La., will use volunteer housing based in Arabi. Meals will be prepared in the Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church kitchen for both project sites, and housing arrangements may require that district volunteer groups may be split and housed with volunteers working at the other project site, some in travel trailers and some in a bunk trailer.

“We now have two housing locations and capacity for 30 volunteers!” Yount said. The site “has been blessed with a 48-foot trailer that was transformed into three sleeping rooms by hardworking Shenandoah District volunteers.” The trailer worth about $5,000 was donated by IDM trucking and had previously been used to haul soft drink products. A new housing option for volunteers at both sites–the Madery house–may be completed by May.

The Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding site in Rushford, Minn., is now a longterm rebuilding project working with the local recovery organization, Lutheran Social Services/Lutheran Disaster Response. The project is scheduled to rebuild eight homes, and hopes to have at least one or two foundations completed by the first of May. The local recovery organization has hired a construction coordinator to help with the project. There are repair jobs to be done as well. “Project directors are needed!” said Yount.

For more information about volunteering at NOLA East, Chalmette, or Rushford, contact Brethren Disaster Ministries at 800-451-4407 or contact a district disaster coordinator.

In other disaster relief news, the Material Resources program based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has been busy this year. Shipments of relief materials in early 2008 have included blankets to Kansas for the homeless and disadvantaged; blankets and hygiene kits to Washington for the homeless and disadvantaged; hygiene kits to Florida for incoming refugees; blankets, health kits, and clean-up buckets to Illinois after winter storms; blankets, hygiene kits, and gauze pads to New Mexico for a United Methodist project; blankets, hygiene kits, and clean-up buckets to Arkansas following tornados; blankets to Maryland for the homeless; a 20-foot container shipped to Liberia for CWS; a CWS container to Mongolia; four 40-foot containers to Mauritania on behalf of Lutheran World Relief (LWR); six 40-foot containers to Sierra Leone for LWR; a shipment to Syria for LWR and International Orthodox Christian Charities; and a shipment to Lebanon for LWR and International Relief and Development.

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The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.