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Lifted by a Tornado

As Leonor glanced out the window, she was stunned to see a dark funnel just down the street, approaching her mobile home. Frantically she got her 19-year-old son out of bed and rushed into a closet. Thinking these were her last moments on earth, she cried out to God. She felt the mobile home lift off the ground three times as the tornado roared outside. When it finally became quiet, they ventured outside.

The devastation that met her eyes still haunts her today—her neighbor crying for help, a house moved to the opposite side of the street, her son running barefoot to check if anyone needed help. Although Leonor and her son were unharmed, their home was badly damaged.

Disaster Response Services volunteers based in Perryton, Texas, recently poured the foundation for Leonor’s new home. She says, “I’m so excited to see what God has already started doing in my house. . . . Y’all are such a blessing to me, not just because of my house, but spiritually. . . . Thank you for all y’all do; may the Lord continue blessing each one of y’all.”


We are grateful for volunteers who make much of the work of Disaster Response Services possible! However, funds are needed to continue doing cleanup and rebuilding work after disasters in the U.S. If you wish to help click the donate button to give a gift to Disaster Response Services.

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Tornado Causes Destruction in Georgia

On January 9, a tornado left a trail of destruction in southwest Georgia near Arlington. It leveled two houses and damaged several other homes. The tornado also wreaked havoc on century-old stands of oak trees and southern pines.

The Georgia Rapid Response team organized a workday to help clean up in this area. They split into two crews and cleaned up six homes. Cleanup included piling trees to be burned, removing tree limbs from buildings, and tarping several roofs.

Arlington, Georgia tornado damage.

We thank God for granting safety and favorable weather to the 18 men involved in this project. These men provided a total of 144 hours of labor using skid loaders, mini excavators, a man lift, and lots of sweat equity.

Please pray that people affected by this storm will feel God’s peace and grace.


To help support the Disaster Response Services USA program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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Update on Hurricane Idalia Cleanup Project

In the wake of destruction left by Hurricane Idalia, Rapid Response staff members and volunteers responded with a helping hand and a listening ear. The category 3 hurricane wreaked havoc in the Big Bend region of Florida, then weakened as it drove a path through Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Rapid Response staff members and volunteers assisted people affected by the hurricane in Perry, Florida, about 15 miles inland from the Big Bend shore.

Over a two-week span, more than 160 volunteers from Florida, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Ohio came to assist residents of Perry, Florida whose properties were damaged. They helped with tree removal, yard cleanup, and other tasks.  Chaplains onsite provided a listening ear and offered spiritual and emotional support to residents grappling with the destruction around them. 

 

Volunteers pose with a cross they cut out of a tree stump. They hope their response to the hurricane’s damage will remind others of Jesus.

To help support the Disaster Response Services program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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Update on Maui Wildfires Cleanup Project

After a recent visit to Maui, Hawaii, CAM’s Rapid Response staff members say a cleanup effort in the near future is unlikely, but a four-person team of chaplains is being sent to minister to the spiritual needs of those affected by the wildfires. A Disaster Response Services rebuilding project may be considered in the future. The staff members assessed damaged areas and met with other charitable organizations and contacts in the Lahaina and Kula areas. At this point, many areas are not open to non-governmental organizations. Rapid Response staff members continue to monitor the situation for changes and look for other opportunities to minister to those affected by the wildfires.

To help support the Disaster Response Services Rebuilding program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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Rapid Response Investigating Maui Wildfires Cleanup Project

CAM Rapid Response staff members are evaluating a potential cleanup project on Maui, Hawaii’s second-largest island. Residents of Maui are reeling from what is considered the deadliest US wildfire in more than 100 years. Since the blaze began on August 8, thousands have been displaced, and more than 100 have been declared dead. More than 2,000 structures are damaged or destroyed. In the wake of this disaster, a Rapid Response cleanup effort is being evaluated. A delegation plans to visit the affected areas next week to investigate needs, connect with local officials, and research the logistics of a potential Rapid Response cleanup effort. They desire our prayers for wisdom, good connections with local and state officials, and safety as they travel and conduct research.

To help support the Disaster Response Services program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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Miracles in the Twister

On March 31, Steve* realized that a tornado was heading toward his town of Adamsville, Tennessee. He and his 83-year-old mother sheltered in a half bath in the center of the house while the violent winds destroyed the rest of the home. Steve says, “Everything [was] gone except the little half bath that we took shelter in, and I do believe this is a mira­cle from God.”

Miracles, Christian Aid ministries
Steves house destroyed by the storm

CAM’s Tennessee Rapid Response team stepped in to cut fallen trees for Steve, saving the large logs for him to mill and potentially use to rebuild his house. Volunteers also helped Steve sort through the rubble for valuables before moving the debris to the roadway for pickup.

To help support the DRS Rebuilding program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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Severe weather in the U.S.

Severe weather, Christian Aid Ministries

Severe weather in the U.S. raised havoc over the past two weeks. Eleven states in the Midwest, mid-Atlantic, and the South reported damage from tornadoes, strong winds, large hail, and flooding. At least 32 people died, and dozens were injured.

Christian Aid Ministries
Iowa

Two major tornadoes hit Mississippi and Arkansas with a destructive path that affected some places in neighboring states. The east coast rarely experiences tornadoes, but several states suffered the wrath of Severe weather. Delaware reported its first tornado-related death in forty years, and New Jersey confirmed at least four tornadoes.

Christian Aid Ministries
Georgia tornado

Severe weather, Christian Aid Ministries
Georgia tornado

Our Rapid Response teams are actively investigating the needs and performing cleanup projects in various states. The teams deployed are from Tennessee, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, Georgia, Arkansas, and Illinois. Other organizations are also active, so at this point, it appears like most of the cleanup projects will only last for one or two weeks.

Christian Aid Ministries
Rapid Response cleanup team

Thank you for your financial support and interest in helping our neighbors in the U.S. Please continue to pray that our teams could restore hope to devastated homeowners and others in need.

To help support the Disaster Response Services program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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Helping a neighbor in need

Helping a neighbor in need, Christian Aid Ministries

“Nothing in life compares to helping a neighbor in need.” In the Bible, Jesus redefines our neighbor as anyone we can help in time of need. Our neighbors in Kentucky certainly needed that helping hand.

In the days immediately after the flooding, Ruthie and I met a lot of people struggling to find a way forward. Many lost their homes and belongings. Some lost friends and family members. People grasp for that helping hand in times like these. Covered in mud and with tears in their eyes, they welcomed our embrace and prayers.

Pain and loss after KY flooding

A coordinator asked us to visit a couple he sensed was struggling. During the flood, they had waited 12 hours to be rescued by boat and lost two friends, one whose body had not been recovered. Then there was the young couple who had just married and closed on a house six days before the flood ruined it. They had not even moved in yet.

We also talked with Scott* and his parents, who started coming to the Loaves & Fishes Food Kitchen for meals and comfort. One day at the food kitchen, Scott asked us to come to their place again. “If you can’t find me, look for me. I’ll be around somewhere.”

The next morning Scott committed suicide. We arrived right after it happened and sat with his parents as they tried to comprehend it all. In the following days, the kitchen provided meals for them and we helped with funeral arrangements. The family requested that the Loaves & Fishes volunteers sing at the funeral.

“It does something to your soul”

Every time we look at a CAM project in our rearview mirror, we realize how God used everyone involved to accomplish His purpose. So many hurting people connect with a coordinator or volunteer. These people speak of the things you said when you reached out to steady them. Or the song you sang that encouraged them. Or how you worked in the mud and slime. It’s so rewarding, isn’t it? We were made for this. Nothing in life compares to helping a neighbor in need. It does something to your soul.

*Name changed to protect identity.

Written by Clair & Ruthie Martin

To help support the Disaster Response Services program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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30-year anniversary of CAM’s first DRS project

DRS project, Christian Aid Ministries

Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida on August 24, 1992, as one of the most powerful storms of the  time. While people in the hurricane’s path shared how God spoke to them through the experience, CAM felt God’s nudging to get involved.

In a newsletter following the storm, a CAM staff member wrote, “For more than ten years our programs have all been overseas. Now we sense a responsibility and an opportunity to get involved in south Florida.”

It all began after CAM’s general director, David Troyer, received a phone call from a Mennonite bishop in Florida, recommending that CAM coordinate volunteers to help with cleanup and rebuilding. Hurricane Andrew left around 85,000 homes to repair.

CAM set up its first base in the middle of Florida City’s destruction, using two homes and a barn that had endured the storm. Volunteers spent the daytime working and the evenings passing out tracts and ministering to emotional and spiritual needs.

A man later approached the DRS project supervisor to say that he had joined a church and was baptized. He made this decision after being convicted through the beautiful voices of volunteer ladies singing while they painted next door.

The mayor was also touched by the loving help from CAM staff members and volunteers and announced August 25 as “Mennonite Appreciation Day.”

Through the efforts of people far and wide, CAM’s first Disaster Response Services project set the course for years to come. We are grateful to God for enabling us to help our neighbors in the U.S. and for staff and volunteers who have given their time and resources over the years.

To help support the DRS Rebuilding program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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Flood in Kentucky brings heartache and hope

flood in Kentucky, Christian Aid Ministries

ON THE NIGHT OF JULY 27, nearly 11 inches of rain fell on Jackson and Hindman in eastern Kentucky. One resident described the downpour that led to the worst flood in Kentucky since 1938: “Lightening flashed! Thunder pealed… it went on and on for hours. The rain poured in gusty sheets.”

Creeks turned into rivers, and rivers became lakes. Trailer houses, vehicles, and trees drifted aimlessly. Water swirled around the rooftops of various homes. People oblivious to the danger stepped out into the darkness to investigate. Some were swallowed by the wave of destruction.

Five feet water in family home Eric and Cassie* decided to leave home for higher ground when the floodwaters began to rise. They joined a group of 20 people sheltering with a neighbor who lived on a hill. After the storm passed, Eric and Cassie found most of their possessions floating in five feet of water.

flood in Kentucky, Christian Aid Ministries
The water mark visible on Eric and Cassie’s porch

Eric and Cassie’s house after Rapid Response volunteers cleand it up

Despite their loss, the couple rejoiced as Rapid Response volunteers helped carry their waterlogged belongings to the roadside for garbage pickup. “Praise God, we are alive. God is so good to us! Thank you, Jesus, for giving us what we needed.” Several days later, another team of volunteers tore wet drywall from Eric and Cassie’s house.

The flood also brought heartache for Cassie’s sister Myrtle, who had no faith in God to bring her comfort. When volunteers gave Myrtle a helping hand, her heart softened and she became open to the things of the Lord. What a wonderful testimony of God’s ability to work through an ordinary task like cleanup!


What are survivors saying?

“Everything we own is gone, except the car. The Lord has been good to us.”

 “God spared us . . . we know people who lost their lives.”

“Pray for us and come help if you can!”

“God is so good”


Flooding in Kentucky, Christian Aid Minstries
This bus made its final stop in the middle of the river.

Flooding in Kentucky, Christian Aid Minstries
The house that stood on this foundation disappeared and a playhouse now stands in its stead.

Flooding in Kentucky, Christian Aid Minstries
The river behind this house rose 41 feet.

Flooding in Kentucky, Christian Aid Minstries
A Rapid Response team cleans up a flooded home.

Many family memories lie in ruins. Treasured photos are destroyed and lost.

After witnessing the losses of the flood in Kentucky, we are moving forward to the next chapter. A DRS Rebuilding base will be set up in Hindman, Kentucky to rebuild and repair houses.

*Names in this article are changed to protect identities.

To help support the Disaster Response Services program, please click the button below to give a gift.


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