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Ministries rally to aid victims of Dallas tornadoes

Ministries supported by Churches of Christ are gathering wheelbarrows, shovels and work gloves as they face a massive clean-up effort in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Tornadoes tore through north Texas on April 3, destroying homes and downing power lines.
The Associated Press reports:

Tornadoes carved paths of destruction across the Dallas-Fort Worth metro Tuesday, April 3. (Photo via globalsamaritan.org)

The National Weather Service said as many as a dozen twisters touched down in a wrecking-ball swath of violent weather that stretched across Dallas and Fort Worth. The destructive reminder of a young tornado season Tuesday left thousands without power and hundreds of homes pummeled or worse.
As the sun rose Wednesday over the southern Dallas suburb of Lancaster, one of the hardest hit areas, it was clear that twisters had bounced in and out of neighborhoods, destroying homes at random. Vehicles were tossed like toys, coming to rest in living rooms and bedrooms.
At one house, a tornado had seemingly dipped into the building like an immersion blender, spinning directly down through an upstairs bedroom and wreaking havoc in the family room below before lifting straight back up and away. A grandfather clock leaned slightly but otherwise stood pristine against a wall at the back of the downstairs room that was filled with smashed furniture and fallen support beams.
Despite the intensity of the slow-moving storms, only a handful of people were hurt, a couple of them seriously, and no fatalities were reported as of late Tuesday.

Read the full story.
Abilene, Texas-based Global Samaritan Resources is one of the church-supported ministries collecting aid for tornado victims.
“Obviously, the DFW area faces several weeks of clean-up, repairs and rebuilding of damaged homes, churches and businesses,” said Tim Bench of Global Samaritan. “Global Samaritan is receiving donations of cleaning supplies (shovels, wheelbarrows, work gloves, buckets, etc.),.gif?Action=thumbnail&Width=460&algorithm=proportionalt cards from home improvement retailers (Home Depot and Lowes), checks and cash.”
“Many of us have friends and relatives in the Metroplex,” Bench said, “so this is an opportunity for us all work together to ensure that physical needs of those affected are met quickly and effectively.”
Were you in the DFW area when the storms hit? Tell us about your experience.
Is your church or ministry collecting relief funds or planning to assist in the cleanup? Please post details below.

  • Feedback
    The Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ in southwest Arlington was just a few hundred yards out of the storm path, with extensive damage occurring in neighborhoods immediately south, east, and due north of us. Amazingly, only two of our members had significant damage to their homes, although many of us had extremely close calls.
    Within hours, Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort of Nashville had offered us a truckload of emergency supplies and staple foods. Not yet knowing what to expect, we accepted. By Wednesday we had set up a war room at the church building to plan how we might help. Thursday morning, a 53-foot trailer arrived and was offloaded. We put out a call for volunteers and, Friday morning, they showed up in droves.
    It was hard to understand the �rules�, and official agencies were simply too overloaded to tell us where and how to help. So, we loaded pickup trucks with food and water and cleaning supplies, and went into the affected neighborhoods to offer supplies and whatever assistance the people might need. Arlington is an amazing, friendly town � also very affluent. The people we talked to were friendly and appreciative – they refused our offers. A typical response was �I�m good, thanks. Please give it to somebody who really needs it.� In fact, some of them actually tried to donate food back to us. By day�s end, it was clear that this particular need simply didn�t exist in Arlington.
    But Lancaster was very different. The damage was more widespread, and the people there simply don�t have the financial resources of Arlington. So with the help of Ken Leonard from CofC DRE, we identified two Lancaster congregations who gratefully accepted the supplies. The next morning, a volunteer tractor trailer and several volunteers from the Prestoncrest congregation showed up. Three hours later, the supplies were loaded and on their way to Lancaster.
    As of Friday evening, Pleasant Ridge officially stood down from �war room� footing. The big agencies are handling 90% of more of the needs. However, we are still asking our members to identify specific needs that we can help with; we don�t want anybody slipping through the cracks.
    Our response wasn�t perfect by any means and there are many lessons to be learned. But the donations we accepted did reach the people who needed them most. I�m a firm believer in the Parable of the Talents. I don�t mind at all that we gave it our best and made mistakes in our efforts. But not to have tried at all � that�s something I don�t ever want to answer for.
    Footnote: The response from the city of Arlington was nothing short of amazing. Although my home was unharmed, my neighborhood was hit hard – two or more homes destroyed, twenty or more deroofed, dozens with trees laying on the roofs, and our heavily treed neighborhood was nearly impassable because of the literally hundreds of downed trees. Within an hour, there were over a hundred police, fire, and city work vehicles on site. Within four hours, every road was passable. One stretch of power lines 100 yards long was covered by a “forest” of oak trees. And yet, our power was restored in 50 hours.
    Pictures of the damage, the police response, and Pleasant Ridge’s volunteer response are available upon request.
    Tim Shelfer
    April, 9 2012

    Tim, I’m so happy to hear about Pleasant Ridge’s response. I moved to McKinney last summer and was VERY pleased in the communication here and the way the news crews and the school system (we are Frisco ISD) kept us informed and my kids safe.
    I would encourage you, however, to continue to check on those that told you, “no, I’m good” over the course of months. We lived in Abilene in 2002 when 600 homes were flooded from overflowing creeks. It is a MONTHS long rebuilding process, as everyone needs a contractor/ cabinet maker/ carpet layer/ painter, etc. It is very easy to become emotionally weary. You are overwhelmed with help in the first week or two, but after 6 months, you have to beg for help to move the furniture back into your house. Keeping tabs on your immediate neighborhood would be a great way to be the hands and feet of Jesus there.
    Sarah S.
    April, 13 2012

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