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FEMA Recognizes Arlington Christian Disaster Network’s Role Helping Community Recover
By Susan Schrock
Posted on December 08, 2017, December 08, 2017

When disaster strikes, the City of Arlington"s first responders aren"t alone when it comes to meeting the most critical needs of the community.

The Arlington Christian Disaster Network, made up of 17 local faith-based organizations, is a critical partner to the Arlington Fire Department. Highly trained volunteers in the network are responsible for the management and implementation of the City"s Volunteer Reception Centers and mass care shelters that are set up in the aftermath of tornadoes, flooding, or other emergencies. ACDN volunteers also serve in other vital cleanup and recovery roles, from delivering meals to those without power to using chainsaws to clear fallen trees and limbs.

"The ACDN has been a valuable resource to us over the years," said Irish Hancock, Arlington"s Emergency Management Administrator."When you do have a major disaster, you have a lot of volunteers. People who want to give back and help their other fellow citizens. The Arlington Christian Disaster Network has been designated as our volunteer resource. They will register those who show up to help and coordinate their activities. That way we don"t have a whole bunch of volunteers going out in the community trying to help. They are targeted to the areas that we need the help most."

The Arlington Christian Disaster Network"s work with the City has not gone unnoticed. On Friday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recognized the church volunteers for a third year in a row. City and church community leaders gathered at First Baptist Church to celebrate as FEMA presented ACDN with its 2017 Individual and Community Preparedness Award.

"We talk a lot in FEMA about community resilience. You are only going to be as strong as your community is. From a preparedness perspective, the more volunteers you can get involved on the front end before bad things occur, train them like what"s been done with ACND, and give them certain disaster skills to be able support the whole community, the better off you are going to be," said Randy Meshell, Federal Preparedness Coordinator for FEMA Region 6."If examples like ACND can be shared across not only FEMA Region 6 but all of Texas and the entire nation, we can use that as a shining star and get more people involved."

"A great reason to be involved with ACDN is because when a disaster strikes, the City needs people that are already vetted and trusted," ACDN Chairman Michael Loesch said."By having the network already in place, the emergency management, the fire chief, whoever, can just reach back and say "Hey, we need this resource." They know most of our volunteers are also volunteers with the City, they have already been vetted, they have already been background checked. When that disaster strikes or that need arises, we are ready to go."

The ACDN was awarded honorable mention by FEMA in the categories of"Community Preparedness Champions" and"Preparing the Whole Community" in 2016 and honorable mention for"Excellence in Volunteer Sustainability" in 2015.

Volunteers with the network also participate in the Arlington Fire Department"s Random Acts of Kindness Program, using their skills to help with projects such as installing wheelchair ramps or making other modifications to help a resident better get around his or her home.

"I would encourage all the churches in the City of Arlington to come on board with the network. We are getting great opportunities and we are glorifying the Lord," Loesch said.

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