August 28, 2017: In the wake of destruction and flooding left by Hurricane Harvey in recent days in Texas, Adventist Community Services (ACS) volunteers are gearing up to meet the needs of families who have had their homes inundated, destroyed or damaged. ACS works under written agreements with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the United States, the American Red Cross and the Texas governor’s emergency management team. It is backed by the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA) International.
Under the disaster response protocols in the United States, each agency is assigned specific operations. Among other things, ACS is responsible for setting up emergency distribution centers to provide cleaning supplies, first aid kits, groceries, blankets and other necessary things for people moving into temporary housing and getting back into their homes. Homes that have been flooded must be scrubbed carefully when the water recedes to remove potential causes of disease as well as get the homes back into usable condition. ACS also has agreements with emergency management officials to use Adventist church and school buildings for temporary shelters for those who have had to evacuate their homes. And it helps in other ways as requested by officials.
Volunteers are needed and more will be needed in the weeks and months ahead, but it is important for volunteers to connect in advance with the ACS organization to make sure that their training and skills are matched to particular operations and that they are part of the ACS chain of command. Otherwise, it is likely that law enforcement will not allow volunteers near the disaster zone.
Volunteers can support the effort in any local Adventist church or school by starting a collection of donated goods by local residents where they are. As the donated goods come in, they will need to be sorted and packed properly and volunteers with large trucks found to ship the donated goods to where they are needed in Texas.
To get involved, call (800) 381-7171 which is the ACS hotline.
You can make a donation through any local church by labeling it “ACS Disaster Response.” Or, you can make a donation online at www.communityservices.org or through the mail to Adventist Community Services, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.