Olympia, WA -- Following the Nisqually Earthquake, the partnership established between federal and state agencies and faith-based organizations has proved vital for some recovering residents.
Twenty-five volunteers have dedicated more than 600 hours during the last three months to such projects as helping elderly residents repair their damaged homes, moving handicapped people out of destroyed property, and assisting non-English speakers in developing long-term recovery plans.
The Washington Faith-Based Recovery Network (WFBRN) was founded shortly after the Feb. 28 quake. This faith-based organization is composed of volunteers from different religious communities who help FEMA applicants use the loans and grants they receive to begin recovering from the damages caused by last winter's temblor. Help is available to anyone who needs assistance, regardless of his or her religious affiliation.
"We've helped a lot of people following the earthquake," said Neil Molenaar, acting director of WFBRN. "The majority of our cases were referred to us by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It makes a world of difference to disaster survivors that the government and volunteer agencies like ours are working together to meet people's needs."
To date, FEMA has referred more than 68 applicants in need of personal assistance to WFBRN. The relationship goes both ways, according to Molenaar. The faith-based organization also suggests that people in need of help call FEMA if they have not already registered.
WFBRN welcomes anyone who wants to volunteer to help disaster survivors recover from the Nisqually Earthquake. For assistance from WFBRN or to volunteer, contact 1-888-707-1200. The organization anticipates being around to help callers for at least another year.
People living or working in the disaster-declared counties who suffered earthquake-related damages should register with FEMA before the June 30 deadline. Check for cracks in chimneys, foundations and plaster. Make sure structures are not tilting and doors are still closing properly.
Call FEMA at 1-800-462-9029 or TTY 1-800-462-7585 to start the recovery process. Telephone lines are open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Those who have already registered but have questions about their applications should call the Helpline at 1-800-525-0321.