USA (MNN) — Cleanup is just beginning across the Midwestern states hit by Sunday’s freak storms.
The unusual November system triggered 80 tornadoes that tore through 12 states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and western New York.
Rescue workers continued their search Tuesday for the missing in a small Illinois city raked by the fast-moving storm system that killed eight people in Illinois and Michigan. Meanwhile, Illinois declared state disaster areas across 13 counties.
World Renew Disaster Response director Bill Adams says, “We have people in that area, visiting with people and just really surveying where the best place to send, perhaps, cleanup teams is. That’s our normal first approach. These folks that are down there, we call them ‘Early Response Coordinators,’ and they have kind of a dual role of surveying, and also spiritual care.”
The World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) staff and regional managers are
coordinating their response plan with state and federal agency representatives. They were in meetings Monday with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Illinois chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to find out what longer term help they could provide.
Insurance companies, emergency services, and the government will help take care of the piles of rubble. It’s the unseen that is often left unaddressed. Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter a community’s sense of security, leaving residents helpless and vulnerable.
Adams earlier referenced spiritual care as one of the immediate roles they take on in the wake of disaster. “We get our ‘Early Response Coordinators’ into the area to start meeting with families who are returning to their property to kind of understand what’s happened to them. It’s a very traumatic thing, as you can imagine.”
He notes that Early Response Coordinators are tasked with providing immediate door-to-door support to storm survivors. “Perhaps more important even than cleaning up downed trees is the part of just talking with people, praying with people, and perhaps helping people look for personal items.” First-person reports help project organizers understand the scope of the crisis so they can offer hope and practical guidance.
This team also connects with local church and government officials as they begin to organize long-term recovery. Because of their commitment to full recovery, there are a lot of opportunities to build relationships. Adams instructs volunteer teams to be ready with an answer when questions come. “You don’t have to hit people over the head with the Gospel. It is the most natural thing when people see someone coming that cares and believes, and they ask you that question: ‘why are you here?’ and you can share the Gospel. God uses that time and again.”
World Renew DRS is currently responding to September flooding in Colorado, flooding in southern Alberta in June, Hurricane Sandy in Ocean County, New Jersey, and Hurricanes Isaac and Irene on the Gulf and East coasts. Naturally, these disasters, each a crisis in its own right, require resources to respond. To that, Adams made this observation: “We never have enough resources either in the form of enough dollars or in the form of volunteer labor when it comes to domestic work. I would just say to people, ‘If God is nudging you, respond. Reach out.'”