Katrina Cleanup Generated Overwhelming Response

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In the face of one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, the Christian Reformed Church stepped to the plate in support of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee’s relief efforts.

“The first few days were extremely hectic,” says Kristen VanderBerg, CRWRC communications coordinator. “Our phones were ringing off the hook with requests for assistance, but also with people wanting to donate, volunteer, and offer their homes to those in need. We were overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity.”

The response brought in more than $5 million for CRWRC’s Hurricane Katrina aid efforts. It also brought in applications from 500 new volunteers and 60 church or school groups.

CRWRC was on the scene within days to clear debris, cut down fallen trees, make temporary repairs, and cover roofs to protect against rain. It also arranged a collection drive that brought in clothing, school supplies, and other items for Katrina survivors who had been evacuated to West Michigan.

Since then, CRWRC has worked with churches across the country to resettle Katrina survivors into new communities and has sent volunteers and church/school groups to disaster sites to clear debris, make repairs, assess needs, and estimate the cost of reconstruction.

“We’ve been blessed to be able to respond to Hurricane Katrina so thoroughly already,” said Bill Adams, CRWRC disaster response services administrator. “Because of the generous support we’ve received from our constituents, we know that we can also continue working in the area for the long term.”

CRWRC has set aside $1 million (U.S.) to be given as grants to long-term recovery organizations in Katrina-affected areas. This month it will distribute the first of these grants. It also committed $3 million for the reconstruction of damaged homes and expects to be involved in repairing and rebuilding homes for the next several years.

—CRWRC communications staff

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