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Connecting Local Leaders to National Response

David Myers, Director of the Faith/Community Center at U.S. Department of Homeland Security, describes connecting local resources and efforts by religious leaders to the coordinated response in the region.

North Nashville Distribution Center

Volunteers help with flood relief efforts at Beech Creek Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, TN. May 24, 2010.

I recently had the opportunity to incorporate the resources and needs of faith-based communities in Nashville, TN as part of the President’s disaster declaration for the region. I visited several African American churches to learn more about their coordinated efforts to assist those affected by the recent floods in Tennessee. Pastors and volunteers worked together to turn their churches’ limited space into donation centers for community members, organizing into "North Nashville Flood Relief." I was moved and inspired by their commitment to reach into their communities with modest resources and unlimited love.

Until last week, the efforts of this group had operated outside the formal emergency response to the floods, which is coordinated through the Tennessee State VOAD (Voluntary Groups Active in Disaster). Through our initiation and support, "North Nashville Flood Relief" attended their first meeting with all of the formal response partners responding to the floods. It was the first VOAD meeting for "North Nashville Flood Relief" and many others in attendance who talked about the resources they can bring to the table and the unmet needs they hope to address through partnerships with other groups.

By attending the VOAD meeting, the "North Nashville Flood Relief" became part of a growing formal emergency response and recovery network—which made for an exciting day and makes for a promising future!

David Myers is the Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Homeland Security