Aaron Atkison was baptized at the Clinton, Arkansas, Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sabbath, February 11, 2017. After church Bev Wynot, an Adventist Community Services volunteer, was preparing to come help in New Orleans following the tornado. Aaron inquired as to where she was going, and upon hearing about her work with disaster response, he wanted to go along. He has been in New Orleans the last two days tirelessly working serving emergency supplies to those affected by the tornado. "It's the right thing to do, and I always want to volunteer when given the opportunity," said Aaron. He is pictured in the Texas Clothing Van (semi truck), filling orders for those who requested prepackaged clothing outfits. He also helped keep the distribution line supplied with other items. Elder Joe Watts, ACS Disaster Response Director for the Southwestern Union commented that "He was baptized one day, and serving others the next day, and that's the way it should be."
New Orleans was hit by a tornado on February 8, 2017. Texas Adventist Community Services was asked to bring the clothing truck to New Orleans to distribute clothing outfits to those affected by the tornado. They served 115 families (342 very appreciative people) on Sunday afternoon. On Monday, February 13 they served clothing packs, personal care kits, blankets, and sheets.They are working in cooperation with Catholic Charities whose church and school are in the actual disaster zone.
The State of Tennessee has been devastated by wildfires that ravaged parts of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge more than a week ago. Our Southern Union Conference has also been affected by these fires. The GA-Cumberland Conference has taken up the main responsibility for this area. ACS DR Coordinator Terry Haight is in search of a building that can be utilized for setting up a Warehouse. In addition, the GA-Cumberland Conference was able to gain access to the town of Pigeon Forge to assess the needs of the community. As they drove through the area the smoke was hanging very low and visibility was down to roughly 10 feet, making it difficult for work to be done in such conditions.
Here is a report from local news coverage:
- Damage assessments continue in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevier County in the wake of wildfires that killed seven people and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.
- Firefighters are striving hard to extinguish as many as 14 remaining blazes as rain brings some relief to the area. The fires covered more than 15,000 acres at its peak.
- As many as 14,000 visitors and residents in Sevier County and Gatlinburg were forced to evacuate ahead of the blaze.
- State law enforcement has set up a hotline for people to report missing family and friends.
Let us remember those who have been affected by this tragedy.
The Distribution Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana will be closing operations effective October 31, 2016. On behalf of the Southwest Region Conference President Calvin Watkins, Church Ministries Director Elder Durandel Ford, Sr., ADRA International, as well as the North American Division Adventist Community Services, we want to express our sincere gratitude to all those involved for their dedicated support and assistance in the Recovery efforts of the Louisiana floods.
It has been a pleasure not only to serve, but also collaborate with other individuals and organizations. A huge appreciation goes out to the following: Irene Williams; Lyn Hykeem; Area Seventh-day Adventist Churches; Sung Kwon; Elizabeth Tomenko; Lavida Whitson; W. Derrick Lea; Pr. William Little and the Nashville Area S.D.A. Churches; Nashville, Tenn. YMCA; Royliene Johnson; Pr. Michael Bailey, Sr.; Portia Perkins; Evelyn Edwards; FEMA; Salvation Army; VOAD; State of Louisiana; T. Ron Weegar; Mildred Dunn and her staff; Brenda Clark and staff; Vendetta Smith and staff; Theresa Paris and her staff; Elder Benjamin Francois and staff; Sherlette Burkhalter and staff; Lucinda Keller; Pr. Robert Davis; Pr. Alfred Booker; Westbank United S.D.A. Church Van & Pr. David Hinds and his staff; Pr. Eliot Brooks; Charlene Thompson and her staff; H. and H. Equipment of Baton Rouge; Clio Place Baptist Church & Pastor Sherman L. Hughes, Sr.; ARK- LA- TEX; American Red Cross; Mediannites; The Baptist Associations; Mormons; and many others.
We would also like to thank Mr. Freddy Lawrence for his patience and expertise in the area of record keeping for the Grant that supported the victims, volunteers, and management of services of the "Great Flood of Louisiana 2016". Let us continue to keep all those who are still being affected by this tragedy and also others affected by such weather-related events.
The Southern Union and its Conferences have been actively involved in helping communities post-hurricane. The Florida Conference deployed Disaster Response individuals out to areas within its region. A few roofs needed tarps to cover exposed areas, but for the most part those affected were able to manage with their own resources. The Southeastern Conference ACS DR Team, led by Director Peay, identified various requests on the ground in the Daytona area.
The South Atlantic Conference took care of the states of Georgia and South Carolina. As the hurricane was approaching the coast, the town of Savanah was emptied and evacuated just prior to landfall. The inhabitants traveled to the camp site run by South Atlantic. The Camp managers Fullard and his wife provided shelter, food, and comfort kits (including church literature) for over 250 people on the camp site. Several power companies had responded to help in the Recovery, as many towns were over 90% without power. The South Atlantic also provided lodging to the workers, so they might provide service to those who were without power. Currently, roughly 80 workers continue to be housed in the hotels run by Church personnel. Most of those from Savannah have returned back home.
The NAD ACS Disaster Team was able to provide partners who could provide assistance like food, water and other household items to those affected. We are teaming up with other NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) through daily Conference calls where the effects of the storm are discussed. We will continue working with our local Conference leadership in the affected areas and are grateful for their timely assistance to their community. The Carolina Conference is looking for volunteers to help out in the South Carolina Warehouse in Mullins. If you wish to volunteer or donate please click here.