ACS Disaster Response Helps Tornado, Flood Victims

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By W. Derrick Lea

 
This Thomasville, Missouri, home sustained major damage after the Eleven Point River waters flooded it on April 29, 2017. Much of the historic town has been destroyed by the flood waters.
Photo provided by Adventist Community Services

 
 

A sudden downpour on April 29-30, 2017, resulted in significant flooding in Missiouri. Kansas and Arkansas were also affected. Approximately 1,000 homes sustained damage (some were completely destroyed); and several roads, property, and businesses have also been devastated by the natural disaster. According to an Associated Press report, much of Missouri was “inundated with up to 12 inches of rain, causing flash flooding that killed three people and led to well over 100 evacuations and water rescues.”
 
The severe weather system also hit the Canton, Texas, community with seven tornadoes. Five deaths were reported, and more than 50 individuals have been injured.
 
Adventist Community Services Disaster Response (ACS DR) was on the scene at the affected areas. The ACS DR team in Texas is in the process of recovery from the seven tornadoes that struck the area late evening on April 29. According to Sherry Watts, ACS director for the Texas Conference, the team is operating a collection/distribution center in the judging barn at the Van Zandt County Fairgrounds. “Donated goods are continuing to come in, and the tornado-struck community is extremely appreciative of the much-needed emergency supplies,” says Watts in a report. ACS volunteers from Terrell, Athens, Mesquite, and Jefferson Academy churches, along with many other community volunteers, have dedicated time to helping those who have been affected by the tragedy.
 
“It has been our privilege to serve more than 300 families from the distribution center so far, and 250 families at remote drop off locations,” says Watts. “We have also sent yard tools, gloves, snacks, trash bags, sunscreen, insect repellant, Gatorade, and bottled water with the clean-up crews going out.”
 
In the Missouri region, the ACS DR teams are supporting 18 multi-agency resource centers (MARCs) with ambassadors in two different locations. These centers are led by Nancy Tarasenko (St. Louis) and Kathy Beijen (Kansas City).
 
DR volunteers from the Iowa-Missouri Conference ACS, led by Jody Dickhaut, have set up a multi-agency resource center in the affected areas. That center is providing flood buckets, clean water, and other needed items. They were able to partner with other agencies such as “Gleaning for the World,” which provided roughly $35,000 worth of blankets with lids to preserve personal items, clean water for drinking, blankets for warmth, and stuffed animals for the children who have been displaced or traumatized by the upheaval of the flood waters. 

 
ACS DR volunteers load flood buckets onto trucks in hard-hit Sunnyvale, Missouri.
Photo provided by Adventist Community Services

 
 

The DR teams toured the area of Joplin, assessing the needs to ensure an effective response. They also distributed storage totes and flood buckets to members of the Neosho community, using a Penske Truck that had been donated to ACS DR Iowa-Missouri for the duration of the recovery efforts.
 
ACS DR and “Gleaning of the World” teams also delivered water, flood buckets, and blankets to Sunnyvale on Friday morning. In addition to the Gleaners, ACS DR has partnered with Convoy of Hope and Penske Truck, which has loaned us the use of three large trucks for delivering goods, along with a trailer for temporary storage. 
 
Arkansas has also been heavily impacted by the floods as waters from Missouri have flowed into Arkansas. The Kansas-Nebraska Conference ACS DR coordinator, Lavida Whitson, is in the process of setting up a warehouse and distribution center for the communities in the affected areas of Arkansas.

Please pray for those affected by the recent storms, and for the relief efforts.

—W. Derrick Lea is the Adventist Community Services Disaster Response director for the North American Division.

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