May 29, 2015

Disaster Response Logistics Center in North Vernon blessed for use

Jane Crady, coordinator of disaster preparedness and response for archdiocesan Catholic Charities, and Jim Smith stand in front of rows of supplies in the Catholic Charities Disaster Response Logistics Center in North Vernon. (Photo by Leslie Lynch)

Jane Crady, coordinator of disaster preparedness and response for archdiocesan Catholic Charities, and Jim Smith stand in front of rows of supplies in the Catholic Charities Disaster Response Logistics Center in North Vernon. (Photo by Leslie Lynch)

By Leslie Lynch (Special to The Criterion)

NORTH VERNON—In the aftermath of the tornadoes that devastated southern Indiana in March of 2012, the need for a logistics center to assist in disaster response surfaced.

That need was met on May 2 when the newly completed Catholic Charities Disaster Response Logistics Center in North Vernon was blessed during a special ceremony.

“Equipment had been donated over the years and was stored all around the archdiocese,” said David Siler, executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. “Having a place to consolidate it gave us the opportunity to do an inventory.”

The $93,000 facility, of which 40 feet by 80 feet is dedicated to disaster response, is located on the grounds of St. Joseph Parish in Jennings County. It houses two enclosed tool trailers, a flatbed trailer for transporting equipment such as front loaders, a four-stall shower trailer, a soon to be completed state-of-the-art office trailer, and support vehicles. Generators, bins full of tarps and other supplies, and tools of every imaginable use line the walls.

“We can now accept large donations of materials in this building,” said Siler. “In the past, we’ve had to decline those items for lack of space.

“While I wish I could say this was my vision when I took this position years ago, I can’t take the credit,” he admitted. “The idea evolved.”

He attributed much of the credit to Jane Crady, coordinator of disaster preparedness and response for Catholic Charities in the archdiocese. She was instrumental in leading the archdiocesan disaster relief efforts after floods impacted central Indiana in 2008 and tornadoes devastated southern Indiana in March of 2012.

Crady learned firsthand about disaster relief when the Holy Spirit nudged her to move to Waveland, Miss., in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Crady took on the daunting task of organizing relief and rebuilding efforts in the small town, then returned to Indiana.

Father Steve Schaftlein, who was pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Henryville at the time the tornadoes ravaged the small town in 2012, witnessed the tremendous help offered by the archdiocese’s disaster response team.

“The most vulnerable rise to the top in situations like this, the uninsured or underinsured, the poor, those who need help in accessing the services available to them because of language or other barriers,” he said.

“Jane Crady and the aid provided by Catholic Charities Disaster Response were invaluable.”

Under Crady’s leadership, the Disaster Preparedness and Response team steps in with an early response, often within 24 hours.

With the new logistics center and its central location in the archdiocese, “We can now move people and equipment to any area of the archdiocese within two hours,” said Siler.

The mission of this ministry of Catholic Charities—providing a caring Christian presence in the aftermath of disaster—adds another dimension: staying until they are no longer needed. They remained in Henryville for two years, providing advocacy and coordinating volunteers and donations until the goal of rebuilding had been completed.

In another unique collaboration, Crady has partnered with the state chapter of the Indiana Knights of Columbus to create a disaster response network. Rick Santangelo, state director for the Knights of Columbus, is actively recruiting members and coordinating trainings to form early response and long-term recovery teams.

Before the blessing of the new logistics center, Mass was concelebrated by Father Schaftlein, now pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Franklin and Holy Trinity Parish in Edinburgh; Father Jerry Byrd, administrator of St. Ann and St. Joseph parishes in Jennings County and St. Mary Parish in North Vernon; and Father Clement Davis, pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus.

Mary Sullivan, a member of St. James Parish in Louisville, Ky., in the Louisville Archdiocese, attended the blessing. She became involved in the Henryville tornado outreach effort as part of her role as manager of Corporate Volunteer Engagement and Disaster Services for Metro United Way in Louisville.

Sullivan was so impressed with Crady’s innovations and the utility of the new logistics center that she is taking those ideas to her organization.

Disaster can strike anywhere, anytime. Whether flood, tornado or earthquake, lives are irrevocably changed in a matter of minutes.

With its new Disaster Response Logistics Center, the archdiocese is now poised to provide even more exceptional aid when natural tragedies occur, Siler noted.
 

(Leslie Lynch is a member of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville.)

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!