Faith Groups Provide the Bulk of Disaster Recovery, in Coordination with FEMA
Paul Singer provided an excellent article on the role of faith-based disaster recovery teams. Below are excerpts, followed by a link to the article in USA Today at the bottom.
If you donate bottles of water, diapers, clothing or any other materials to hurricane victims in Texas or Florida, your donation will likely pass through the hands of the Seventh Day Adventists before it gets to a storm victim.That’s because the Adventists, over several decades, have established a unique expertise in disaster “warehousing” collecting, logging, organizing and distributing relief supplies, in cooperation with government disaster response agencies.
In a disaster, churches don’t just hold bake sales to raise money or collect clothes to send to victims; faith-based organizations are integral partners in state and federal disaster relief efforts. They have specific roles and a sophisticated communication and coordination network to make sure their efforts don’t overlap or get in each others’ way.
Over and over again in public comments as Hurricane Harvey was soaking Texas and Louisiana, FEMA administrator Brock Long asked concerned citizens to go to NVOAD.org to make donations – that is National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the alliance of volunteer organizations that are helping FEMA channel disaster assistance into the affected areas. About 75% of the organizations that are part of the alliance are faith-based.
The efforts of volunteer groups come at essentially no cost to the government yet they also have a significant cash value to the states they serve.
“About 80% of all recovery happens because of non-profits, and the majority of them are faith-based,” said Greg Forrester, CEO of the national VOAD. The money is “all raised by the individuals who go and serve, raised through corporate connections, raised through church connections,” and amounts to billions of dollars worth of disaster recovery assistance, he said.