Adventists Mobilize Volunteers in Urban Search and Rescue, Humanitarian Relief after Hurricane Sandy
by AT News Team
Hundreds of Adventists are volunteering to help the millions of families from Virginia north to Connecticut swamped by Hurricane Sandy. They include local volunteers in centers handling relief supplies throughout more than a dozen states, as well as college students from Nebraska and adults from Tennessee with mobile kitchens from Tennessee.
Adventist families are also among those impacted by the flooding, power outages, wind damage and fires. The Greater New York Conference reported yesterday that an initial survey of five out of the 42 local churches in the areas affected by the storm found 17 church-related families that have been forced out of their homes. The Allegheny East Conference reported that the pastor of the Neptune, New Jersey, church had a tree fall on his home.
Adventist Community Services (ACS) relief centers were opened at 9 a.m. yesterday (Wednesday, October 31) in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn areas of New York City. Planning is underway to open a center on Long Island also. These centers will be providing baby formula, disposable diapers, cleaning supplies, blankets, bottled water and groceries to meet the immediate needs of disaster survivors. Hundreds of ACS teams across the eastern half of the nation are accepting donated items in their local areas and arranging to transport these items to the east coast.
Allegheny East Conference, a regional conference that includes eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia, is mobilizing its centers, mobile units and ACS response teams. The conference has a number of supplies already stockpiled in advance of the disaster.
Other conferences in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia have not yet issued reports on what they plan to do, although their ACS organizations have obligations under contracts with FEMA and the American Red Cross. Adventist Today has not received responses to inquiries about the plans of these conferences.
A team of ten students and two faculty members from Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, arrived in Pennsylvania yesterday to provide their skills in urban search and rescue and as emergency medical technicians (EMT). The college is the only Adventist educational institution in North America that has a degree in disaster response and humanitarian emergency work. Students complete EMT certification in their first year in the program, so they are already qualified to assist local fire departments and other first-responders.
An independent Adventist humanitarian agency based in Tennessee is working in collaboration with the Union College team. ACTS World Relief is providing mobile kitchens and other emergency equipment for the student group and additional volunteers.
Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in the Caribbean the week before it hit the east coast of the United States. The Jamaica Observer has reported that “a number of churches were extensively damaged,” including Adventist churches. The Boston Seventh-day Adventist Church in the town of Portland was completely destroyed and the Jamaica Gleaner published a picture of the small, rural congregation meeting under the trees on Sabbath. The Adventist churches in the towns of Saint Thomas and Saint Mary “will need extensive repairs” stated Arlington Woodburn from the Jamaica Union Conference.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Jamaica has already made contacts with international funding sources and had coordination meetings with the island nation’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, reports the Jamaica Observer. It will focus on the repair of damaged homes and construction of replacement housing, ADRA country director Wenford Henry told the newspaper.