Help grows in Fort Worth


FORT WORTH, TX (April 10, 2000) -- Tornado survivors in Forth Worth are

beginning to recover from killer tornadoes that devastated the downtown


Voluntary agencies and faith-based groups are planning to meet the needs

unmet by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). President

Clinton declared Tarrant County a disaster area this past weekend.

Five people were killed in the March 28 storms, which included two

tornadoes 30 minutes apart. Dozens were injured as the twisters swept

through River Oaks, Fort Worth, Arlington, and Grand Prairie.

The storms devastated downtown Fort Worth, which is still closed, causing

an estimated $450 million in damage. Countywide, 171 homes were

destroyed and at least 1,500 sustained minor to extensive


Church World Service and other faith-based agencies are planning to

coordinate crisis counseling for survivors and their families.

A group of local volunteer organizations is meeting every other day

to coordinate relief efforts. The

15-20 member group, includes such organizations as the United

Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), Catholic Charities, the

Salvation Army, and the American Red Cross.

The group "will meet the needs of survivors after FEMA and other

federal agency help (has been exhausted)," said Rachel Sandifer,

director of missions for the Central Texas Conference of The United

Methodist Church. Sandifer also represents UMCOR.

United Methodist volunteers have been involved with debris removal and

pastoral counseling. United Methodist Volunteer in Mission teams will

be needed over the next 6-12 months to assist those who are uninsured

or under-insured to repair damage. Other UMCOR funds will be requested

after assessments have been made.

The Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief of the Episcopal Church

based in New York City has sent $25,000 in an emergency grant to the

Diocese of Fort Worth. The money will be used for temporary housing for

the elderly, according to spokeswoman Coleen Stevens-Porcher of the

fund's office in New York City.

Area congregations are also supporting tornado survivors, including the

First Baptist Church of Arlington, which took a special offering.

Several area churches are opening their doors to congregations of

damaged churches. The Midtown Church of Christ in Fort Worth has opened

its doors to the Calvary Cathedral International's school. According to

Calvary's Pastor Bob Nichols, the 3,000-member Calvary congregation

sustained more than $10 million in damages when one of the two tornadoes

destroyed its sanctuary and other parts of its facilities.

Calvary's prayer tower, which was staffed by volunteers 24 hours a day,

was destroyed in the storm. Two women praying inside it when the

tornado struck were uninjured. Volunteers now offer prayers from a

nearby trailer. Nichols said several area church leaders have called

him to offer assistance. First Christian Church was unable to use its

building last weekend because of damage to nearby skyscrapers.

The Rev. Roy Martin, interim minister at First Church said worship

services were being held at Robert Carr Chapel at Texas Christian

University, south of downtown.

Updated April 11, 2000

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