It was a long and tiring drive yesterday from Birmingham, Alabama to the state of Texas where we met volunteers at the Islamic Center of Irving in order to devise a coordinated Muslim response effort in the wake of recent tornadoes.
Our goal was to assess Arlington and Lancaster, where trucks were tossed across the sky in this past Tuesday’s tornadoes. Arlington and Lancaster were declared ‘disaster zones’ and aside from residents, official authorities and contractors who had certain jobs in Arlington’s affected areas, the majority of the city was closed off to the public. We were directed to the South region police station. An officer with the Arlington Police Department who was acting as the volunteer reception liaison informed us that she had officers going door to door through all of the affected neighborhoods to assess the needs. They would compile the needs and then begin processing work orders as early as Friday or Saturday. We submitted our contact information as well as our capabilities and were informed that they were glad to have us and that we would be hearing from them shortly.
After Arlington, we made our way to Lancaster. There, a VRC (Volunteer Reception Center) was set up at the local library. We submitted our information to them as well. They were also in the process of assessing needs and once that was complete, they would begin to process work orders. We were able to drive through some parts of the affected area, but the majority of the affected area was closed off due to power lines being down and trees blocking the roads. The whole area looked like a huge Hollywood set where an aftermath of a war would begin shooting. Debris was strewn everywhere, metal shards punched on the sides of wooden fences, fences torn down, cars lying upside down, glum faces and tear-filled eyes.
At 9 AM as well as at 4 PM, we attended conference calls with the Texas VOAD (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), where FEMA and the following other representatives were present: Red Cross, ICNA Relief USA, St Vincent De Paul, Lutheran Disaster Services, Convoy of Hope, Texas Baptist Men, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. We were also invited to the MAS Youth Center to raise awareness and recruit volunteers, as they are interested in promoting local Muslim involvement in their community’s relief efforts.
72 hours after arriving in Texas, ICNA Relief USA accepted 3 work requests. We began work at the home of a survivor, which can no more can be called a home, but a broken down structure. We covered the broken windows with plywood to provide security and then weatherized them with plastic tarp. We lifted the badly damaged garage door, so the owner could remove his automobile. We also worked on the home of Dr. Yunus, focusing on cutting and removing trees and debris from his badly damaged home. We were joined by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization we’ve worked with in the past, as well as some neighbors and friends of Dr. Yunus. We were also joined by volunteers from Bait Ul Maal, a local chapter of a Muslim organization serving needy families in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area. During these difficult times of struggle, it is the blessing of Allah that allows us to work together for the common good. The greatly needed assistance was sincerely appreciated.
News in the media may phase out within a few days, but the real needs of debris removal, tarping, and repair will require continuous attention for many weeks to come. We will continue to work together to provide some of the basic needs to survivors of these devastating tornadoes. Please remember the survivors in your prayers, and please pray for ICNA Relief USA and our volunteers.
- Abdurrahman Badat
Disaster Relief Services
Field Operations Manager
ICNA Relief USA is a non-profit organization established to provide disaster relief and social services to under-served populations within the United States. ICNA Relief currently provides many services such as disaster relief, women’s support shelters, hunger prevention, family counseling, refugee assistance and free clinics in many cities. ICNA Relief Dallas food pantry alone serves hundreds of needy families every month.
Your donation is used responsibly. Volunteer and your time will be used purposefully.
501 (c)(3) Nonprofit Organization Tax ID # 04-3810161
Head Office: 87-91 144th St., Jamaica, NY 11435
Local Office: 220 E Spring Valley Rd, Richardson, TX75081