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Aug 18, 2015 Written by 

Local Involvement in PDA

By Robert Houser

Greg Smith and I of Des Moines Presbytery are members of the National Response Team (NRT) of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). As NRT members we are deployed as much as four weeks out of each year in response to a variety of disasters. This is done without pay although our expenses are covered. There are presently about 80 NRT members located across the country.


Beginning in November of 2013 my primary deployment became being the PDA response coordinator for Oklahoma Disaster. What that means is that I oversee the PDA involvement in the ongoing recovery efforts in Oklahoma. This began as the response to the May 2013 tornadoes that struck Moore, OK. At the present time there are still about 500 cases to be completed in response to that disaster.

Just as I was beginning to plan my exit as response coordinator a tornado struck Bridge Creek, OK and another in Moore, OK. The 2015 Moore tornado impacted 84 homes that had been damaged or destroyed in 2013. Then in May and June rains and flooding occurred along the southern border of Oklahoma.

We now find ourselves trying to respond to the disasters of both 2013 and 2015. This has caused a good bit of confusion. One challenge has been trying to figure out if the Long Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) for Moore in 2013 would be the committee for the 2015 tornado. It has taken about five months but it appears that is finally coming to resolution. Other LTRC’s (there were five for 2013) are changing or disbanding.

In addition, Oklahoma is attempting to create three new Long Term Recovery Committees for response to the flooding. At the last report there were over 3000 homes damaged in the flooding and several counties hadn’t even filed claims for assistance at that time. The challenge for this most recent disaster is that there haven’t really been funds provided which makes the response effort very difficult. Volunteer work groups become more critical to the effort because of the shortage of funding.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has been providing a variety of resources for this work. We send mission work groups which are scheduled through the PDA Call Center (866-732-6121). The call center is working to schedule all volunteer groups that seek to work in Oklahoma. We have assessed many churches as they prepare themselves to host volunteer groups. We have provided Care for Caregiver Retreats which are directed primarily at those who are working with either the mission groups or the survivors of the disaster. We have also provided Compassion Fatigue training for the same people. We even provided Conflict Transformation Skills training for them.

Your continued support for the work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is greatly appreciated whether is it financial support for a particular disaster, contributions to the One Great Hour of Sharing (1/3 of the OGHS offering supports the work of PDA), or by sending mission groups to help clean-up and rebuild.

1120 Last modified on Tuesday, 18 August 2015 15:10

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Stated Meeting

Our Next Stated Meeting Is:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The 511th Stated Meeting of the Presbytery of Des Moines will be held on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at St. Paul Presbyterian Church, 6426 Merle Hay Road, Johnston, Iowa. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m.

You may make your reservations for the meeting here