During the past week, Adventist Community Services Disaster Response (ACS DR) volunteers throughout the Northwest have been torn between ongoing storm devastation needs far to the east and the potential of wildfire recovery efforts close to home.
At this point, the loss of primary residences to forest fires around the Northwest has been minimal, so warehouse management, the customary strong point of ACS DR experience, has not been a current need.
Oregon Conference ACS DR, however, was one of two faith-based organizations asked to send staff to the Eagle Creek Fire emergency operations center in Troutdale, Oregon, during the past week. Laura Pascoe, Oregon ACS DR coordinator, says they worked alongside the Multnomah County volunteer agency liaison to accomplish several tasks:
Plan and carry out community meetings in areas of need and informational press conferences;
Help direct expressions of generosity to those directly affected by fire displacement;
Mobilize other non-profits and faith-based organizations to participate in the community meetings.
A group of ACS DR volunteers from Upper Columbia Conference is currently in Houston, Texas, helping with a distribution center operated out of the World Harvest Outreach Seventh-day Adventist Church. Thousands have flocked to this center for resources.
ACS DR personnel from the Southwestern Union and beyond have partnered with many other civic, non-profit and faith-based organizations to reach out to the growing needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
And now, in addition, Hurricane Irma’s recent devastation and resultant flooding will stretch all support organizations to respond. ACS DR personnel in Florida and the Carolinas are currently assessing the needs and evaluating how Adventist volunteers can provide the most efficient help. More details will be forthcoming soon.
— Steve Vistaunet is assistant to the president for Communication for the North Pacific Union and editor of the Gleaner.