Category Archives: disasters

Fort Wayne disaster ministry monitoring blizzard for possible response

ACAD logoAssociated Churches Active in Disaster (ACAD, the disaster ministry of Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County) is monitoring the situation in the U.S. Northeast, where a major blizzard is underway.

ACAD is in communication with Operation Blessing, a national disaster ministry organization that coordinates the response of disaster volunteers. Operation Blessing positioned an advance team in New Jersey and is prepared to respond with food distribution and snow removal relief efforts. Operation Blessing is not at this time requesting volunteer assistance but could do so in the future, when the impact of the storm and resulting needs of affected communities become known.

ACAD is NOT asking local churches for any kind of assistance at this time, except for prayers for those in the path of the storm. Please do NOT reach out to ACAD or the Associated Churches office with offers of assistance until and unless requested.

ACAD will use social media (such as its Facebook page and Twitter account) and other channels, as appropriate, to keep local churches informed of the situation.

IDHS encourages Hoosiers to check on neighbors

Photo of icicles with words "dangerous cold" superimposedThe Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) is encouraging Hoosiers to check on their neighbors, especially those who may be elderly or have special or functional needs.

IDHS issued a news release on the topic this afternoon.

“We all need help every now and then,” said John Erickson, IDHS director of public information in the news release. “Take some time to check on your neighbors.”

IDHS suggests calling first to confirm the neighbor is comfortable with receiving a visit. The department’s also offered other suggestions, including:

Meanwhile, a Wind Chill Warning continues this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow morning for much of northern Indiana. According to the National Weather Service, meteorologists expect prolonged, dangerous wind chill temperatures of -15 to -30 Fahrenheit through midday tomorrow. The combination of wind and cold could cause frostbite within minutes on any exposed skin.

Solar flare blacks out shortwave radio, more flares possible this weekend

A potent X1-class solar flare 11/7 caused a strong HF radio blackout. More X-flares are possible this weekend, as a sunspot turns toward Earth, according to http://spaceweather.com/.

Ironically, a solar-induced blackout is the scenario for tomorrow’s simulated emergency test by ham radio operators of the Indiana section American Radio Relay League Amateur Radio Emergency Service and National Traffic System.

Red Cross responds to ProPublica/NPR investigative journalism story

The American Red Cross published on its own blog yesterday its response to an investigative journalism article that criticized the Red Cross’ response to recent disaster, including super storm Sandy.

In the blog, the Red Cross denies that it diverted vehicles and resources to press conferences instead of using them to deliver services.

The organization also indicates that there is “no evidence to support” an assertion that After Hurricane Isaac made landfall, the Red Cross sent 80 empty emergency response vehicles through neighborhoods in Mississippi, only for show.

Read the response for yourself at http://blog.redcross.org/#sthash.n1apoVxU.rbD1fK3e.dpuf

Don’t let big problems at the American Red Cross kill it

When the Red Cross finally appeared (in the Rockaways, N.Y.) weeks after the storm (Sandy), volunteers were planning to distribute flashlights but discovered they had no batteries, she (a volunteer for the relief group Occupy Sandy) says. One Red Cross staffer came to a Rockaways community center and asked them to donate some. “I was infuriated,” she recalls. “Didn’t Lady Gaga just donate a million dollars to you guys?” she asked the Red Cross staffer. “Buy some batteries with it.”

The above paragraph is an excerpt from “The Red Cross’ Secret Disaster,” a piece of investigative journalism published today by ProPublica, a non-profit corporation that describes itself as an independent non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. The except demonstrates just one of many ways the American Red Cross apparently allowed poor leadership at top levels to hinder (if not disable) its ability to meet the needs of the victims of Hurricane Isaac and super storm Sandy.

For a long time, the American Red Cross has been the default recipient of monetary donations from Americans who feel compelled to do something to help disaster victims. Reading ProPublic’s piece might lead you to consider other recipients for your next donation.

If so, and if you, like me, are a Christian, consider looking first to your own denomination. Many have their own disaster response ministries. If you’re not certain whether your denomination does, ask your pastor or other church leaders.

That said, I believe it would be a shame if the American Red Cross ceased to exist due to drying up donations as a result of ProPublica’s exposé. The American Red Cross has significant resources and should not be allowed to die. Instead, donors should insist on reform and greater transparency, so that the organization can better respond to the next disaster.

I welcome you to use the comment link below the title of this post to add your thoughts. And if you’d like to share this post, you’ll find convenient links below.

Facebook announces disaster communication tool

Facebook image of phone displaying
Image provided by Facebook

Facebook has announced implementation of a new communication tool designed to help people learn quickly whether a disaster has harmed their loved ones.

The tool, called “Safety Check,” will help users:

  • Let friends and family know they’re safe
  • Check on others in the affected area
  • Mark their friends as safe

Only the user’s friends will see the user’s safety status and the comments the user shares.

Safety Check will be available globally on Android, iOS, feature phones and desktop.

Facebook will activate the tool after any major disaster. When Facebook does so, any users who Facebook’s servers believe might be in the disaster area will receive a message through their Facebook accounts, asking if they’re safe.

Users may then indicate that they’re safe, or, if Facebook got their location wrong, that they’re outside the disaster area.

Whenever users mark themselves as safe, Facebook will send a message to all of the users’ Facebook friends to inform them.

Another way people can inform their loved ones that they are safe after a disaster is the American Red Cross’ “Safe & Well” program. Everyone who has access to the Web may go to the Safe & Well website and list themselves as safe and well. Users outside the disaster area may use the same website to search for registrants by name, phone number or home address.

How useful do you think such tools are? Add your comments using the comment link under the title of this post.

Allen County (Ind.) issues flood-related road closing update

The Allen County public information officer posted the following on the county’s Facebook page this morning:

Allen County Highway Condition Update: 9 a.m.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, the Allen County Highway Department South Barn reports these roads closed due to high water:

•Bostic Road between South Anthony Extension & the new Bostic Rd. Bridge
•South County Line Road between US 27 & Winchester Rd.
•Marion Center Road between US 27 & Winchester Rd.

Read more »

Flood forcing Huntington residents to evacuate

Emergency management in Huntington Co reports flooding in town of Huntington along Little River due to ice jam. (1 of 2)
— NWS Northern Indiana (@NWSIWX) February 21, 2014

Some residents being evacuated along the river in town. We have issued small areal flood warning along the Little River in town (2/2)
— NWS Northern Indiana (@NWSIWX) February 21, 2014

See details of the flood warning for Huntington here: https://t.co/p9rag4GwcD
— NWS Northern Indiana (@NWSIWX) February 21, 2014