Dr. Lon Oliver, Executive Director of Kentucky Appalachian Ministries and Associate Regional Minister for District 10 and 11(Eastern Kentucky), telephoned the church on Tuesday to thank us for our support of the initial relief to the community of West Liberty, Kentucky. He has been visiting the shelters and collaborating with other agency directors as they pull together resources to help in the ongoing relief that may well take years. One of the stories he shared with me was the image of a husband, wife and their children that were living in an area just big enough for a few cots. The husband was making his way to work for the day and the mother was planning the day’s activities with her small children in area not much larger than the average bathroom.
This far, our congregation has sent $600 in emergency grants to Kentucky Appalachian Ministries to purchase kerosene for older residents with no power or heat. An additional $370 was sent to Week of Compassion who is working in partnership with KAM. Thus far this week our congregation has received an additional $3,000 that will go to KAM’s continued relief effort.
What is next? For many, the relief effort is frustrating as emergency workers are still doing initial assessment and managing the critical necessities of the survivors. As the heads of these relief agencies have collaborated, they have wisely divided up responsibilities on which each group is able to focus. Over the next few weeks, FEMA will provide trailers for long term temporary housing. Rev. Greg Alexander and our Regional staff will be coordinating mission relief teams to head to the area in the months to come to help with clean up and repair of homes. In turn, Lon has called together KAM congregations in partnership to help in the long term recovery. FCC-Ashland is partnering with FCC-Morehead to help with home needs. Our two congregations will join with the Disciple congregations in West Liberty to hold a furniture and home drive to help furnish the FEMA trailers. FCC-Ashland will be gathering bedroom and kitchen needs and FCC-Morehead will be handling bathroom and personal hygiene items. Of course, we will receive any gently used furniture or kitchen supplies that we will take to one of the congregations in the West Liberty area for families with insurance or Red Cross certification. The details of what exactly we will need will be discussed at a meeting with KAM and the minister of FCC-Morehead tentatively scheduled for March 22. Our target date for the giveaway will be the middle to late April.
I understand our initial impulse is to rush and do as much as possible today and our financial gifts are making that response possible. However, in true Disciple ethos, we will not only be some of the first on the ground, we will also be the last to leave. This relief effort will be a long term mission. We will keep you informed as our elders, deacons and Outreach Department will be working with both the critical needs and the long term efforts in helping folks, like the family Lon told us about, to rebuild their lives. There will be opportunities for all of you to be an integral part in this process. Thank you for all you are already doing!