Christian non-profit organizations have outdone FEMA and provided the vast majority of the relief aid to victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Faith-based relief groups are responsible for providing nearly 80 percent of the aid delivered thus far to communities with homes devastated by the recent hurricanes, according to USA Today. An alliance of non-profit organizations called National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), 75 percent of which are faith based, has helped FEMA distribute relief assistance to communities hit by disasters and assisted families in navigating government aid programs to begin the process of rebuilding.
“About 80 percent of all recovery happens because of non-profits, and the majority of them are faith-based,” Greg Forrester, CEO of NVOAD, told USA Today.
Several individual organizations have aided in the relief operations in major ways as well. Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical disaster relief group led by evangelist Franklin Graham, recently began a relief mission to the Caribbean to help victims of the hurricanes on various islands. Samaritan’s Purse also has ongoing relief operations in Houston and is preparing to aid Florida in the aftermath of Irma.
“FEMA – they have been a big blessing to us, they’re an assistance to us,” Luther Harrison, vice president of North American Ministries for Samaritan’s Purse, told USA Today. “For Hurricane Irma, the majority of our equipment has already been dispatched to Texas … so our office in Canada is bringing their equipment across the border and FEMA was instrumental in helping us clear that with customs and getting all the paperwork done.”
The United Methodist Committee on Relief, which has 20,000 volunteers trained to serve in disaster response teams, not only helps clean up the mess and repair the damage inflicted on homes by disasters, but also helps families with the process of applying for and receiving aid from various government relief programs.
The Seventh Day Adventists help state governments with warehousing various goods and necessities to aid communities in the aftermath of a disaster.
“Right now, in the state of Texas, we are going around with FEMA trying to help them select a facility,” Derek Lee, director of disaster response for Adventist Community Services, told USA Today. “It’ll actually be the state’s facility but it’ll be us that helps them manage it. We are going around with them right now trying to help them pick out a facility that will accommodate what the need is going to be on the ground.”
Non-denominational Christian relief organization Convoy of Hope helps to provide meals to victims of natural disasters by setting up feeding stations in affected communities, and they often do so at FEMA’s request. Most recently the group prepared three trailer trucks filled with food and necessities to be shipped out to areas affected the worst by the hurricanes.
The services that faith-based relief groups have rendered to ravaged communities has not only helped the families and individuals affected by the storms, but has also translated into billions of dollars worth of aid for the states in general, which must match and pay back the economic aid given to them by FEMA. The volunteers, who come at no cost to state governments, count toward the states’ matching of FEMA funds.
“FEMA can not do what it does so well without the cooperation of faith-based non-profit organizations and churches,” Rev. Jamie Johnson, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships, told USA Today. “It’s a beautiful relationship between government and the private sector and it is something to behold.”