If you have been following our relief efforts recently, you most likely know that we have been providing ongoing relief to families in Appomattox, Evergreen and Pamplin, Virginia. This area was hit by a devastating F3 tornado which damaged or destroyed near 100 homes.
This storm impact many families locally, but was actually part of a large scale storm system which affected families from Louisiana to Pennsylvania.
One area particularly hard hit was Convent, Louisiana.
“Don’t Wait On FEMA, It Ain’t Gonna Happen”
That was the headline in The Advocate’s (Louisiana Newspaper) story the day after the storm hit. Despite taking out entire neighborhoods, the storm had not caused enough widespread damage to get FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to help the town.
When our disaster coordinator arrived on the scene there was very little relief available. We immediately began working work local churches to distribute supplies to this under served community.
By the end of the trip, we had provided over 30,000 pounds of relief supplies to families in Convent.
As an EF-3 tornado tore through the communities of Appomattox, Pamplin, and Evergreen, Virginia, we knew there was going to be an enormous need. How did we know? Gleaning For The World’s office is located just ten minutes away from where the tornado touched down. When the tornado alarms sounded, staff and volunteers had to seek cover in our emergency storm shelters.
Once the storm passed, staff immediately sprang into action. Several residents were injured, 100 homes and structures were damaged or destroyed, and thousands of local families were left without electricity. That night, shelters opened and Gleaning For The World was there with food, water, blankets, and pillows to help families who were affected by the storm.
By the next morning, we had a crew at the Command Center in Evergreen, VA working with volunteer groups and coordinators to provide needed supplies as the clean up began.
In the Columbia area, 26 inches of rain fell, including a record breaking 11.5 inches in 24 hours. The weight of the water caused dams to breach and fail, flooding communities below. In all, eleven dams failed causing tremendous damage. Tragically, $12 Billion in damages across the state were wrought and 25 people lost their lives.
When the rain stopped on October 4, more than 10,000 people were without power and nearly the entire state was placed under a boil water advisory. Braving the treacherous conditions and rerouting to get by flooded interstates, we had supplies on the ground the next day. We began providing clean water and food through partnering local food banks to provide aid to the community. Cars lined up for miles and waited sometimes for hours to get clean water and food. Our continued response provided families with cleaning and building supplies to help clear debris and damaged parts of their home. We provided personal care items, such as shampoo, deodorant, soap and toothbrushes as families had to leave damaged homes for hotels.
It was a horrible record to break, but in 2015 wildfires in the state of Washington consumed an unprecedented 1,005,423 acres (1,600 sq. mi.) of land. For a frame of reference, the size of these fires would have consumed the cities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington D.C. and Boston combined! It was devastating and if uncontained these fires threatened several towns and smaller cities.. Firefighters in the state were working around the clock and quickly becoming overwhelmed by the sheer size of the wildfires. As a state of emergency was declared, 3,000 firefighters from around the country rushed to Washington to help, followed quickly by the National Guard.
In the Chelan area, residents were caught by surprise as the wildfires were able to cross the Chelan river, something the fires had never been able to do before. 2,700 families were forced to evacuate into shelters. Our partners in Chelan, WA asked for assistance in providing water to firefighters trying to contain the blaze. We were able to provide the hundreds of firefighters in Chelan, Washington with tens of thousands of bottles of water.
We reached out to towns along the flow of the Animas River, and urgent requests came in from small, under-served communities. We immediately began providing bottles of clean water to thousands to people who did not have access to uncontaminated water. We provided more than 12,312 gallons and 24,000 bottles of water specifically to the 7,000 residents of Montezuma Creek, Utah and Aztec, New Mexico. This provided residents with clean drinking water while toxins passed through the area’s water supply.
We have been able to feed thousands of families who lost everything in the earthquake in Nepal. We reached regions of the country virtually untouched by emergency personnel due to the inaccessibility caused by the damage to the infrastructure. The farming regions of Nepal that provide vast amounts of food for the entire country have been cut off and large areas of the country cannot receive food. We provided meals invaluable to the people of Nepal. In addition to the food and water, the churches we partner with have provided shelter and tents to the now homeless families.
Four months-worth of rain submerged cities in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. More than 80 people were killed and over 1,000,000 were forced from their homes. 10,000 landmines, left over from the war in the 90’s, were unearthed by landslides all over the country. Zoran and Nives are leaders of the evangelical church in the heart of this community. This is a town of 80,000 people located in the epicenter of the damage. Many are now forced to live in tents and have no access to clean food and water.
In rural communities, roads were wiped out and families are forced to walk long-distances to get the minimal help available..
Bosnia is a country that continues to face severe challenges. These families suffered through the civil war that tore the country apart. We were able to provide food and water to help Zoran and Nives provide for members of their community while they recover.
Officials released all cities, towns and counties of the water restrictions. We met with several organizations about the water quality. They were very thankful for the nearly 220,000 bottles of water that we provided. The resources made it possible to help thousands of families prevent illness and irritation. The organizations were in the process of flushing water pipes. Most of the families had decided to wait a week or two to be sure the chemical had passed. Bottles of water are still made available and are being distributed to those who are waiting.
After meeting with our partner organizations, we met with members of the medical community about a rise in illnesses related to contaminated water. Out of all the cases reported there were a total of twenty admissions to the hospital and all have been released.
Typhoon Haiyan, rated the most powerful storm in recorded history, slammed into the Philippines. The Philippines was still recovering from an earthquake that killed over 100 people just two weeks prior. They are devastated. We worked with missionaries to provide food for hundreds of families for months. We provided medical supplies to hospitals and medical treatment centers in the field.
Our process of support bypassed typical routes. Corruption in the customs process stopped much of the humanitarian relief getting into the Philippines. We use a route to by pass the customs process. Through private courier we were able to provide enough food and water to feed 1,200 for an entire month.
Our sustained response is still on going. Many are still without power and water. Thousands who lost their homes will be rebuilding for years to come.
Help us maintain this commitment to the Philippine families in this dire situation.
After the EF-5 tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma City was hit with another massive EF-5 which left destruction 2.5 miles wide, making it the widest ever recorded. Twenty people lost their lives in this second round of tornadoes. The one thing to be thankful for in this tragedy is that when the second round of tornadoes hit Oklahoma, the area had already been stocked with supplies. Our efforts have made it possible to get relief to the second-round victims even more quickly.
Gleaning For The World provided relief to this hard-hit area. We have provided 13 shipments for the Oklahoma City area.
We have been able to provide water, food, gloves, baby supplies, paper products, stuffed animals, furniture, totes and more.
In November of 2012 twenty-four states were slammed by the largest storm in history. In New York, The Coney Island Gospel Assembly was left standing among the wreckage. The bridges closed, and with them went access to outside help.
While it took FEMA and the Red Cross four days to respond, we were providing help within hours of the storm – supplying over 15,000 meals.
Things have improved, buildings rebuilt, attractions have reopened, but there is much to be done.
It hit us more like a tsunami, the only way I can describe it is the tide came in and never went back out.”
The storm pushed in one of our main doors – a metal door and frame- and the mortar and bricks around it. It flooded the lower level
Our original assessment was that we were going to only be able to send 5 to 6 tractor trailer shipments. We ended up sending 50 tractor-trailer loads to New York, with over $5,000,000 worth of supplies. Do you see providence in that? I’d say that it is a true miracle.”