On Saturday, December 6, 2014, volunteers from around West Michigan will depart in a caravan of vehicles and supply trailers from the World Renew Disaster Response (DRS) Services offices for Pensacola, Florida. The volunteers will spend a week setting up volunteer housing on a long-term reconstruction site to address damage from a month of rain in the Florida panhandle in April 2014.
The Press is invited to attend this event, interview volunteers and staff, and tour the World Renew DRS facilities.
What: Volunteer caravan, Pensacola/Escambia County area flood relief
Where: World Renew DRS Offices
400 – 76th St., SW
Byron Center, Michigan 49315
When: Saturday, December 6, 2014
8 am to 9 am EST
World Renew DRS anticipates sending weekly work crews to the Escambia County long-term reconstruction site from its roster of over 3,000 volunteers on a regular basis into 2016. The decision comes after the organization assessed the needs of more than 300 area homeowners who are living in unsafe, unsecured housing and are unable to afford or complete repairs themselves.
World Renew DRS focuses on assisting low-income, elderly, and disabled disaster survivors who are without adequate insurance. The organization provided similar services in response to recent tornado damage in the Kentwood and Wyoming area of suburban Grand Rapids.
In Escambia County, Florida, World Renew DRS is working in an agreement with a local recovery committee called “Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies.” BRACE will provide case management, building materials, and work permits required for home repair. World Renew DRS is providing self-contained teams of reconstruction volunteers, tool trailers, construction supervision, site management, and cooks to support work crews.
The flooding, caused by a month of foul weather and rain from April 7 to May 2, 2014, caused rainfall that exceeded 30-year historical data by 200-400%. “More than 25 inches of rain fell over a 36-hour period,” said Andrea Krieger, president of the United Way in Escambia County. “The Florida panhandle was subjected four weather systems last spring that included historic rainfall, severe storms, tornadoes, and straight line winds.”
The devastating flooding happened quickly when the massive rainfall hit the relatively flat land in the area. The water had nowhere to go and overwhelmed drains, ditches, and ponds—essentially funneling water into peoples’ homes.
“The need in Pensacola was so great that World Renew DRS has committed to working with BRACE in a long-term reconstruction effort there,” says World Renew DRS Communications Coordinator Kellie Scholma. “Our plan is to continue into 2016, depending on the funding we receive in the coming months to support our volunteers as they donate their time to the work.”
To donate to World Renew DRS flood relief efforts in Escambia County, click here.