This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

MDS ends Texas fire response

BASTROP, Texas — Mennonite Disaster Service has ended its project in Bastrop County after three fall and winter seasons of work in the central Texas community in response to 2011 wildfires.

Volunteers raise a wall of a home in Bastrop in November. — MDS

The MDS response included a recreational vehicle group, where long-term volunteers live in their own RVs, and a traditional site, where short-term and long-term volunteers are housed by MDS.

More than 1,000 volunteers took part in the effort between November 2011 and April 2014. During that time, more than 80 home sites were cleared of damaged trees and debris from burned homes.

Volunteers installed skirting, porches and ramps for fire survivors who replaced their burned-out homes with manufactured housing.

Working with the Bastrop County Long-Term Recovery Team, MDS built 21 new homes from the foundation up and helped four other clients finish their rebuilds with roofing, foundation and drywall work.

MDS managed almost $750,­000 of the recovery’s team’s funds. The work of MDS volunteers leveraged those funds into structures whose market value would exceed $2.2 million.

Carl and Laura Dube volunteered as project coordinators and also as project director and office manager for the entire MDS Bastrop project.

“It is amazing to see how the gifts of labor and love can produce such a benefit for both the clients and the entire county, as homes are restored, tax bases are firmed up and families are able do business and go to school in the Bastrop community,” Carl Dube said.

He remembered the Bible story of servants who were given talents and told to use them.

“In Bastrop the MDS volunteers have put their talents to good use and reaped a high return,” he said.
Jerry Grosch, director of field operations, described their work.

“Their long-term coordination was invaluable, and their strong organizational and relational skills helped to make this a very smooth and productive project,” he said.

MDS partnered with several other volunteer groups and businesses, including Christian Aid Ministries, World Renew, Nomads, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Lutheran Social Services.

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!