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From hurricanes to tornadoes, relief group delivers record aid

Joe Dudney stopped in midsentence and chuckled, realizing how excited he sounded about the numbers he was discussing.
“I’m bragging a little,” said Dudney, vice president and executive director of Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort.
But who could blame him?

It’s been quite a year for Dudney andthe Nashville, Tenn.-based relief organization.

Even before two waves of deadlytornadoes struck Dudney’s home state of Tennesseein early April, the ministry was reporting record amounts of aid distributionsince Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coastlast year.

Total aid shipped to disaster victimssince last year was approaching $25 million by mid-April, Churches of ChristDisaster Relief Effort reported.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Dudney saidof the support received from all 50 states. “We’ve heard from churches we’venever heard from before.”


Aid distributed in 2005 alone topped$16 million, more than double the previous record of $6.7 million in 2004.

Four months into the year, the 2006amount already has eclipsed 2004: This year’s aid stood at roughly $8.5 millionat press time. The figures are based on the estimated value of supplies, evenif they were purchased at a discount.

For example, a family food box is a60-pound box full of food and other items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste,paper products and a New Testament. Designed to feed a family of four for atleast five days, it’s valued at $130. The ministry gave away 50,333 such boxesin 2005 — an estimated $6.5 million worth.

Other aid offered by Churches of ChristDisaster Relief Effort includes personal care boxes, infant care boxes, cleaningbuckets, mops and brooms, cleaning chemicals, new beds, furniture andappliances.

“Since we continue to ship weekly tothe Gulf, the amount of aid increases rapidly,” Dudney said before the Apriltornadoes.


In the wake of the tornadoes, more than300 volunteers worked at the ministry’s Nashvilleheadquarters to load truckloads of supplies for victims in Missouri,Arkansas, Kentuckyand West Tennessee, as well as the Nashvillearea.

But Churches of Christ Disaster ReliefEffort wasn’t the only ministry to shift focus — at least temporarily -— fromthe still-mammoth hurricane relief effort.

Christians On Call Network, a ministryformed at the White’s Ferry Roadchurch, West Monroe, La., after the hurricanes, recruitedcounselors to visit the tornado-damaged areas. Christian Crisis Resources —organized by Oklahoman Carla Calhoun and Mississippiminister John Dobbs after the hurricanes — posted needs of tornado victims onits still-developing Web site at www.christiancrisisresources.com.

Kimberly Rowe, a Freed-HardemanUniversity junior from Hazel Green, Ala., traveled to Baton Rouge, La., to helpafter Hurricane Katrina. But she said the tornadoes seemed more personalbecause they struck closer to her university home in Henderson, Tenn.

Rowe joined a group of 17 students whohelped clear debris from a church member’s field in Newbern, Tenn. Amid twistedtree limbs and metal, they found personal items such as photo albums and familyvideos — some blown from 10 miles away.

“It was absolutely unbelievable,” Rowe said.“There were people just sitting on lawn chairs on their concrete slabs becausethey didn’t have anything left.”

May 1, 2006

Filed under: National

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