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Disaster Response Report from GA-Cumberland Conference - May 5, 2011
   GA-Cumberland DR Shower Trailer


Adventist Community Services / Disaster Response is well known for its disaster response program. Over the years we have built an enviable track record from all over this nation by our handling of warehouses, distribution centers and collection centers. Governments depend on us the handle the donations “problem” for them.
This time is no exception. ACS/DR is operating a warehouse in the city of Cleveland, TN, in Bradley County that will serve both Bradley and Hamilton Counties, and will have a direct impact on the lives of thousands of people affected by the tornadoes of last week. This is what is expected of us, and we do it well.
But the real heroes this time are the hundreds, perhaps thousands of ordinary church members who simply rolled up their sleeves, grabbed a chainsaw, a pair of gloves, a camp stove or grill, a pickup truck – whatever was needed, and went out and saved their neighbors, cut trees out of their driveways or off their houses, fed survivors and volunteers, set up and operated impromptu distribution sites at intersections – in short, they did whatever was necessary to assist their neighbors. This was literal – these people were actually their physical neighbors in many cases.
Southern Adventist University offered their dorm rooms for victims who needed short-term housing, starting a trend among other colleges and universities near-by.
I have spent the better part of the week in meetings with SAU, the VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) agencies and county Emergency Management Agencies as we all got our act together to help over the long term. But the local SDAs, backed by Adventists from all over our Conference, as well as from outside the Conference, immediately went to work to start the process. Organized relief work typically takes a few days to get organized, and lasts for weeks, months or years. It’s usually much better organized to be able to sustain a response over that time span. But our people saw an immediate need and filled it.
I was at a briefing at the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency today, and the subject of the Alabama Road / Blair Road response was brought up by the Bradley County Fire Chief. That area was served (and is still being served – at least through this weekend) by members of the Apison SDA Church, SAU students and a small local Baptist Church. He praised that response as a classic example of local people helping their neighbors, and recommended that Bradley County back them up with whatever they needed. The Conference Shower Trailer (which the Chief also mentioned) is presently there and is being used by local people who still don’t have water or electricity. The GA-Cumberland Conference membership provided the funds to build that unit following Hurricane Katrina, you may remember. That investment is now paying off!
At the meeting of the Greater Collegedale Adventist Amateur Radio Club this evening, Pastor Don Gettys, Senior Pastor of the McDonald Road SDA Church, which has played a major part in this response, told us that every able-bodied member of his 1000 member church took part in one way or another in this effort. That’s the best example of Jesus in blue jeans that I know of!
In the week since this tragedy happened, I have become extremely proud to be an Adventist! God’s blessings on every individual who has taken (and is still taking) part in helping our neighbors.
Thank-you for being the wonderful neighbors and example of God’s love that I have witnessed in a long time!
- Terry Haight, Coordinator
   GA-Cumberland Conference