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Volunteers respond to devastation

From food canteens, to volunteers helping farmers clear their fields, disaster response organizations focus on survivors

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | March 2, 2012

"We are preparing to respond as needed"

—Bill Adams, CRWRC

Even as emergency responders helped survivors cope with more devastating Midwest tornadoes Friday, faith-based disaster responders were planning a ways to help. Tornadoes have left death and destruction across the region this week.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), the Salvation Army and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) were just three of dozens of organizations said to be responding.

Food canteens were providing meals to hundreds of survivors in the southern Indiana Friday night according to Major Steve Kiger of the New Albany Salvation Army.

In Indiana, Bishop Michael J. Coyner of the Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church, called for prayers for the survivors and families of the victims who were killed in the violent weather. The Rev. Tom Hazelwood, Assistant General Secretary of UMCOR told church officials the disaster response organization was prepared to assist. Hazelwood is scheduled to visit the area early next week.

Ed and Helen Mulder, district managers for CRWRC, planned to arrive in Harrisburg, IL, Friday in the wake of tornado damage in that community on Thursday. The Mulders will help make early damage assessments and coordinate with other voluntary organizations.

”We are in continuing discussions with (national) partners in order to determine how we can best send help,” said CRWRC Disaster Response Services (DRS) director Bill Adams. “The situation is unfolding across the entire Midwest and east central areas of the US, and we are preparing to respond as needed.”

A spokesperson for the Disciples Volunteering, a program of the Week of Compassion of the Disciples of Christ said Thursday it was determining "ways that we might be able to contribute to long-term recovery in these affected communities."

In Branson, MO, volunteers from Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) helped survivors clean up debris and moved livestock to safe facilities, according to Leland Hostetler, an MDS unit representative.

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