MDS readies response to Gustav

GRANTHAM, Pa. (Sept. 5, 2008)—Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), an affiliated ministry of the Brethren in Christ Church, circulated this news release on September 3, 2008:

Mennonite Disaster Service is evaluating its response in the wake of Hurricane Gustav. MDS has been in contact with several Anabaptist leaders in the Gulf Coast area as it begins coordinating service opportunities.

As the storm edged out of the Gulf, Nelson Roth of Gulfhaven Mennonite Church (Gulfport, Mis.) repeated the word “preparedness” several times, stating, “Everyone was ready with a plan.”

“We have access to volunteer labor. As far as getting needs connected with resources, we think we can get this rolling rather quickly,” Jerry Klassen, MDS disaster response coordinator, added. “Next, we begin identifying needs as quickly and efficiently as we can, sharing resources that are available to us, and empowering local Anabaptist leaders with resources.”

MDS executive director, Kevin King, stated that in terms of responding quickly and effectively to the needs, MDS is “positioned well with contacts in the Gulf Coast.”

A note from MDS executive director, Kevin King
As a colleague at Lutheran Disaster Response said, “We are in difficult days.” MDS continues to be in contact with the many churches and partner agencies who have evacuated due to Hurricane Gustav. They desperately want to get back and determine the status of their homes, businesses and houses of worship. I am happy to hear that everyone seems to be safe. This is an emotional time for many of these people as Gustav made landfall soon after the three year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Disasters in the past several years seemed to have shaken the fabric of America, perhaps one even finds it torn. Yet as James Lee Witt once said, disasters have a way of making us stronger in the broken places.

Meanwhile it may take days if not weeks for volunteers to be able to enter into the areas and help. We continue to monitor approaching Hurricane Hanna and others that follow. MDS remains committed to respond, rebuild and restore.

MDS response
Even as MDS gets ready to respond, many residents themselves are not yet being allowed back to their home. It will be several days or weeks before MDS can fully expect to begin sending in volunteers.

Volunteer opportunities
Don’t wait until winter to volunteer! Volunteers are needed for the fall months. Fall projects include Newton, Texas; Diamond in New Orleans, La.; and Pass Christian, Miss. RV projects will be open in Marble Falls and Newton, Texas.

Local MDS Units are coordinating tornado and flood clean up in Iowa. At this point, only local, daily volunteers are needed, as there is no housing available for out-of-town volunteers and the needs change on a daily basis. If you are near an affected area and want to help, call the Akron office (800) 241-8111 for more information about what is needed in your area.

Urgent needs
Crew leaders, cooks, office managers and construction supervisors are needed in several locations from October 6 to December 12. Call (800) 241-8111 to volunteer. In Canada, call (866) 261-1274.

Contributions may be sent to:
USA: 1018 Main Street, Akron, PA 17501 or
Can.: 6A-1325 Markham Rd, Winnipeg, MB R3T 4J6
ONLINE: www.mds.mennonite.net/donate
Telephone: (717) 859-2210 or (800) 241-8111

Remember the variety of ways you can give to MDS through volunteering your time or giving through cash donations, planned gifts, bequests and traded securities. Call our office to learn more details.