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
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
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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