Wednesday, 1 April 2009


USA ― U.S. President Barack Obama has declared a federal emergency in response to flooding in the United States along the Red River in North Dakota and Minnesota.

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee Disaster Response Services staff asked local Christian Reformed church members in North Dakota and Minnesota to "use prayer chains, word of mouth, or whatever means you have at your disposal to make potential volunteers within your communities aware of this urgent need."

The churches sent hundreds of volunteers to help sandbag. Now, residents are braced for an early spring snowstorm that could dump over a foot of snow, even as record floodwaters recede.

Officials said the winds from the new storm will cause waves in the floodwaters that will put more pressure on the sandbag dikes along the Red River, but the river levels were expected to continue their gradual decline.

Art Opperwall, CRWRC-DRS groups manager, said traffic, bad weather, and other congestion concerns are causing crisis management personnel in Fargo to request that only local volunteers respond at this point.

The ministry staff is collaborating with local authorities in Fargo and other relief organizations on a near-daily basis this week. DRS regional manager Jay DeBoer says, "There are minimal folks in shelters at this point. Residents in this area are known to stay with relatives rather than shelter, although some neighborhoods, nursing homes and hospitals have been partially evacuated."

CRWRC's Bill Adams says their DRS team is on alert. "They actually would come in and help with the cleanup. In the case of flood, you have to wait for the immediate rescue to occur; you have to wait for the water to go down. They were pretty much ready to go, but we've got them on hold, right now."

Even while the teams are asking for additional funding help, they're looking for ways to share Christ. "Anytime our people go into the community, it's to work, but it's to be the hands of Christ. That's really what it's all about. You go in, and you lend a hand, and you're invariably offered the opportunity to pray and to encourage. The ministry opportunities abound whenever you have a disaster in a community."