Moore, OK 2013 - Emotional and Spiritual Care
On the afternoon of Monday, May 20, an EF5 tornado with peak winds estimated at 210 miles per hour touched down in Moore, Oklahoma, killing 23 people and injuring 377 others.
Because of our relationship with the Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN), based in Austin, Texas, our chaplain team was invited to work with them in Moore, Oklahoma. Our team arrived the evening of Thursday, May 30. The following morning, after being briefed by ADRN, we began providing emotional and spiritual care for the tornado survivors at the Westmoore High School, which was the site of the Red Cross Disaster Assistance Center (DAC).
Our work on May 31 was cut short because of the threat of another series of tornadoes. This series of tornadoes touched down only a short distance from I-40 and came during rush hour traffic and took the lives of at least 13 more people. The rain and hail that accompanied these tornadoes flooded homes already damaged by the May 20 tornado and damaged or destroyed additional homes.
We saw a dramatic increase in the number of families coming for assistance after the second storm. For several days in a row we served more families than the previous day. God gave us the privilege to meet and provide emotional and spiritual care for children and teachers from the collapsed schools, parents and grandparents who lost children, citizens who helped rescue people who were trapped, and families whose homes were totally destroyed or damaged.
Over and over again we heard from families who said they prayed and God spared their lives. Often the only part of their home that survived was the room they were in. Many who suffer loss as a result of a disaster come with that loss and other struggles for which they need help. This was the case with many of the people we met. Many times we saw God bring healing and hope to families needing help with pre- and post-tornado struggles and needs.
Our team arrived home on June 7; tired but with a deep sense of gratitude to God for allowing them to serve the tornado survivors.
Moose Lake, MN 2012 - Emotional and Spiritual Care
Heavy rains on June 19 and 20 in Moose Lake caused major flooding that was the worst in the town's history. Flood waters flowed from the north and west and breached homes and businesses impacting about 30% of the town's 2800 residents.
DRC's founders received and responded to a call from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) to serve in Moose Lake and the surrounding communities alongside Samaritan's Purse volunteers. Both founders are BGEA Rapid Response Team chaplains. Their duties included providing emotional and spiritual support for Samaritan's Purse volunteers who were "mudding out" homes. Mudding out a home involves removing damaged personal belongings, furniture, carpets, and drywall and then treating walls and floors with a special solution that kills mold and is safe for humans and animals. Their second duty was to meet with homeowners who had requested help from Samaritan's Purse.
Disasters cause trauma to those whose lives were directly impacted and to those who help them recover from the disaster. DRC's founders visited homes where Samaritan's Purse volunteers worked and provided emotional support for them while at the home and when they returned to the base camp. Homeowners who lacked insurance coverage were especially grateful for the free help provided by Samaritan's Purse.
The founder's listened and prayed for homeowners who expressed gratitude for the chaplain's visit and prayers; including a widowed homeowner in her 90's who expressed a desire to know for certain that she would go to heaven when she died. They shared God's plan of salvation with her and she gladly prayed to receive Christ. This is one of many instances where God took a disaster and brought good from it.
Wadena, MN 2010 - Emergency Communications
Around 5 PM on June 17, 2010 an EF-4 tornado (wind speed estimated at 175 MPH) ripped through the town of Wadena, MN (population 4300) leaving a path of destruction, injuries, and death. Three in the area were killed and more than 30 sustained injuries as a result of the storm.
On June 25th, DRC's founders joined amateur radio operators from a variety of places plus hundreds of other volunteers who came to provide disaster relief. They were assigned to the Salvation Army's relief base and provided radio communication that aided the efforts of relief workers who were removing downed trees, etc.
Property damage was extensive. The city lost many 100 year-old trees. The local high school sustained extensive damage and the town pool was destroyed. The town's cemetery was littered with downed trees and overturned headstones. School buses showed evidence of the powerful force of this tornado. These pictures show only a portion of the storm's damage which was estimated to be approximately $35 million dollars. By the time they arrived, many of the fallen trees had been cleared but no one could miss the destruction and extensive damage this tornado left in its wake. It is truly a miracle that there were not more deaths.
The most unusual damage was to a house whose kitchen wall had been torn off by the tornado. The tornado left the dishes in the cupboards untouched. Two signs across the street from each other were bent but each was pointing in a different direction. Intact roofs sat on the ground as well as roofs that were just a pile of rubble. A semi-trailer was picked up from the street, twirled around, stripped of its walls, and broken into two pieces. The ground where the wheels rested contained circular scuff marks created by the tornado as it spun it around before dropping different parts of it in different locations.
Haiti, 2010 - Emotional, Spiritual, and Physical Care
January, 2010 brought devastation and death to Port-au-Prince, Haiti and surrounding communities. Thousands of lives were lost and those who survived the quake were left with less than they had before the quake hit; which is hard to believe because Haiti is a very poor nation.
In spite of many obstacles that severely hindered their efforts (including a major gas shortage - gas prices were $10 or more a gallon), they listened and prayed for the people who told their stories of where they were when the earthquake struck and the fear they felt not knowing if their family members were OK. One man, who ran a computer school, shared how God led him to dismiss class early. Though his building was completely destroyed, no one was hurt or killed.
The medical and prayer teams traveled to three remote villages to provide medical care. The line of those needing help kept growing in spite of the heat and humidity. One young boy asked for prayer because his father had died and the family was now without the income needed to pay for him to go to school. In Haiti, education is the way to improved living conditions.
The team took time off from relief work to view the hardest hit areas of Port-au-Prince. The pictures on the left were taken in downtown Port-au-Prince. Much rubble had been already cleared but, as one can easily see, there is much rubble that needed to be cleared and many damaged buildings that needed to be leveled.
Haitians were clearing the rubble using hand tools. It will take much outside help and many years to remove the damaged buildings in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding communities and rebuild the homes and businesses.