Voluntary organizations active in TN disaster

BY GEORGE PIPER | JACKSON, Tenn. | January 22, 1999


JACKSON, Tenn. (Jan. 22, 1999) -- Faith-based and Jackson area civic groups

are making a dent in disaster relief for thousands affected earlier this

week by deadly storms.

Thirteen organizations and groups met this week with members of the

Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to shore up short-term

relief

efforts, and local ministerial association members will meet with a Church

World Service representative Tuesday morning to work on long-term unmet needs.

Deadly twisters capped a stormy winter night Jan. 17 and 17 counties in

western Tennessee bore the brunt of high winds. The storms, killed

eight people and injured 106. The winds destroyed 294 homes, heavily

damaged another 1,280 residences and left 266 businesses needing repairs,

according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

The VOAD established a toll-free hotline at 1-800-687-0652 for donations

and volunteers and is working with Adventist Community Services, to head up

a multi-agency warehouse being set up in nearby Bemis, said Richard Ramey,

Tennessee VOAD chairman.

Funds collected via the toll-free number will be funneled into an account

established by the Greater Jackson Ministerial Association for the relief

and recovery effort.

Other VOAD participants are lending a hand as well. Some of the efforts

include:

The Tennessee Baptist Convention, which is running feeding units in cooperation

with the American Red Cross. Members of the Salvation Army have also been

operating a food canteen.

United Methodists and Red Cross representatives are expected to interview

survivors this weekend to get a better idea of needs in the area.

Second Harvest is collecting food, bedding and hygiene items for survivors.

The Jackson Chamber of Commerce provided telephone banks and helped the

VOAD acquire equipment for the warehouse. Area Lions clubs are giving

vouchers for food, clothing, medicine, shoes, bedding and kitchen equipment.

Mennonite Disaster Assistance, Regional Inter-Faith Association of Jackson,

the United Way and the Jackson Public Works department are among other

organizations participating in the efforts.

Besides the services from the faith-based and civic group, Ramey is

encouraging cash donations, that will allow relief organizations to buy

needed items. Purchasing such things locally also helps the area's economy,

he added. Bottled water, tarps, work gloves, garbage bags and yard tools

also are on Ramey's short-term list.

Charles Moeller, a CWS regional facilitator, will work with the ministerial

association next week as it establishes an organization for unmet needs on

a long-term basis.

Ramey scheduled VOAD a meeting Friday to keep responding organizations

informed on services performed and to discuss any need or problems. "It's

hard to funnel and organize needs when you've got different groups doing

their own thing at

different paces," he said.

Volunteer response is strong, noted Ramey, although the available help

currently outweighs the need. "People want to volunteer right then, and

it's hard to tell them we don't need them right now," he said.

Meanwhile, United Methodists are among the faith organizations looking at

other ways they can help survivors.

"We're really going to try to offer spiritual support as well as find out

what their needs are," said Cathy Farmer, director of communications for

the Memphis Conference UMC, adding that United Methodist Churches in the

region have scheduled a clean-up day for Jan. 30.

Meanwhile, as plans were being set in motion Friday for long-term response,

Jackson area residents were also keeping an eye on the skies as warning

sirens sounded frequently as a new round of tornadoes threatened the region.

Posted Jan. 22, 1999


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