September 11, 2017: A September 10 USA Today article has highlighted the partnership between FEMA and faith-based organizations in disaster relief.
“If you donate bottles of water, diapers, clothing or any other materials to hurricane victims in Texas or Florida, your donation will likely pass through the hands of the Seventh-day Adventists before it gets to a storm victim,” states the article.
Adventists are described as having built a “unique expertise in disaster “warehousing” collecting, logging, organizing and distributing relief supplies, in cooperation with government disaster response agencies.”
As he was interviewed for the article, Derek Lee, director of disaster response for Adventist Community Services said that his organization was searching with FEMA for warehouse facilities in which to store disaster relief supplies in Texas.
The article notes that while Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texas and Louisiana, FEMA administrator Brock Long asked concerned citizens to go to NVOAD.org (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) to make donations. About 75% of NVOAD is faith-based.
Other major faith-based organizations that partner with FEMA include Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical aid group run by Rev. Franklin Graham.
In addition, the United Methodists have 20,000 trained volunteers around the United States that serve in “early response teams.” They are available to do debris cleanup in the wake of natural disasters.
Apart from Christian groups there are also Islamic, Buddhist and Jewish relief agencies helping in disaster zones.
“FEMA can not do what it does so well without the cooperation of faith-based non-profit organizations and churches,” said the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships, Rev. Jamie Johnson, “It’s a beautiful relationship between government and the private sector and it is something to behold.”