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Response organizations set to help survivors

BY GEORGE PIPER | EASTERN U.S. COAST | August 26, 1998

EASTERN U.S. COAST (August 26, 1998) -- As more than 500,000 residents and vacationers were ordered to leave the

North and South

Carolina coast, disaster response organizations were making preparations to

serve thousands of disaster survivors.

With hurricane warnings stretching from SC, northward to

Chincoteague, VA., Adventist Community Services (ACS) mobilized

management and volunteer personnel in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland

and West Virginia.

ACS was preparing to distribute donated goods to potentially thousands of

hurricane survivors. The organization primarily handles donated goods

during early phases of disaster relief efforts.

Larry Buckner, national disaster coordinator for the Adventists disaster

response program, started talking to state disaster response and emergency

coordinators last Friday (Aug. 21). He and 15 other ACS officials will

coordinate a multi-agency warehousewhere donations can be received and

distributed.

Armed with food, clothing and toiletries, the Adventists' staff and

volunteers supply survivors with basic needs right away before

reinforcements of donated goods begin arriving to designated warehouses for

distribution.

"The first 48 hours is the most crucial," Mike Ortel, the North Carolina

Conference of Seventh Day Adventists disaster coordinator said from his

office in Charlotte, N.C. "Before all that stuff comes in, we'll be making

(relief) assessments and giving out the items we bring with us."

Other disaster response organizations are also responding.

The Emergency Response Office of Church World Service (CWS) has

assembled a new Hurricane Season Task Force to assist creating a

distribution system for equipment and supplies and pre-position needed

supplies, including health kits, cleanup kits and electric generators.

Officials from the United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Disaster

Assistance have also been making plans for assistance.

Many churches along the North Carolina coast are on alert, said the Rev.

Jerry Jackson, a conference disaster

coordinator for the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist

Church, and minister of Northwoods United Methodist Church in

Jacksonsville, N.C. The church's emergency kitchen is also being prepared.

Local interfaith groups along the North Carolina coast have also

prepared for Bonnie.

The Hatteras (N.C.) Interfaith Council, organized during Hurricane Emily

in 1993, identified churches, community centers and fire stations as

possible relief shelters, said the Rev. James Huskins, the council's

director and North Carolina United Methodist Conference disaster team

member.

A focal point for relief efforts around Hatteras Island, N.C., the

council has improved its communications' capability to aid potential

response efforts. Four of the council's 13 pastors have 60-watt, low

frequency radios in their vehicles, and Huskins hopes to eventually equip

all members with such devices. Huskins also relies on local ham radio

operators during severe storms.

Local interfaith groups will be important in effective community

disaster response, says Dennis Levin, president of North Carolina Interfaith Disaster Response (NCIDR) and a

Church World Service (CWS) consultant.

"These organizations got going under (hurricanes) Bertha and Fran," he

says. "Those experiences will be instrumental in getting mainline

interfaiths to operate through local groups."

In Charleston, S.C., Al Aiken of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance was

working to get relief supplies ready and is working with American Red

Cross officials to set up emergency operations centers. Aiken is

also networking with others who have worked in past hurricane relief

efforts.

Updated August 26, 1998


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