A Listening Ear Provides Help in High River

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Alberta experienced the worst flood in the province’s history earlier this year.

In the immediate aftermath, people rallied to provide food, shelter, and other support to some of the 100,000 people forced from their homes.

Now that the waters have receded and the media cameras have left, however, the needs are not over.

The elderly, people with disabilities, and those without adequate insurance still need help repairing their homes and rebuilding their lives.

In mid-September, 20 World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) volunteers traveled from all across North America to High River, Alberta, to participate in the DRS Unmet Needs Assessment program.

They were sent out in teams of two, knocking on doors, talking to homeowners, and examining damage. They then turned these reports over to the High River Renewal Committee, a local group tasked with coordinating the flood response.

“The work of World Renew’s Unmet Needs Assessment teams is invaluable to disaster-affected communities,” said Bill Adams, director of World Renew DRS.

“It identifies those most in need and also enables various nonprofits to coordinate their efforts to ensure that needs are met.”

But the value goes deeper than that. It also gives disaster survivors someone to talk to and process their experience.

Herman and Tina Boks of Hamilton, Ontario recently volunteered as Unmet Needs Assessment volunteers for World Renew in New Jersey, where Hurricane Sandy had caused millions of dollars of damage in 2012.

“So many people just want someone to talk to,” Tina explained. “Yes, their home has been damaged, but they’ve also lost photo albums and other keepsakes. Maybe they lost their job after the disaster, or their health is poor.

“Maybe they no longer feel safe in their home. It is a blessing to be able to sit with them and let them know that someone cares. Sometimes there is even an opportunity to pray with them,” she said.

World Renew expects to be involved in repairing and rebuilding the homes of some of the most vulnerable people in the High River community over the next two years.

About the Author

Kristen deRoo VanderBerg was part of the World Renew Communications team from 1999-2016. She now serves as director of Communications & Marketing for the Christian Reformed Church.

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