Features

After the blaze

"After the blaze" Continued...

Issue: "Geo-gizmos," April 25, 2009

Four months later, Twigg met with people from the Episcopal and United Methodist denominations who had reached similar conclusions, and Recover San Diego was born. The group aims to help individual households and faith-based organizations prepare for disaster and, when it strikes, respond in a coordinated, collaborative way.

Taking a lesson from the longevity of faith-based groups still working in regions ravaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, government and civic groups are providing Recover San Diego with significant backing, Twigg said. Still, the internal dynamics of the faith-based effort aren't friction-free. Interactions between established disaster relief groups and FBOs newer to aid work can be "fraught with peril," Twigg said. "To enter the relief realm with new ideas takes a lot of time and relationship-building."

Friction also occurs among the faithful. Some FBOs have "clear differences on moral and social issues, yet you're attempting to set those aside for the greater good of the community," said Twigg. The key to forward progress, he added, is focusing on the common mission.

In the coming month, Recover San Diego will be reborn as the San Diego Disaster Coalition, MDS will turn its attention to building a house on the property of Bill and Judy Thompson, where they have already poured a foundation, and the Campbells will settle into their new home.

At a dedication ceremony on March 27, the Campbells' pastor blessed the new house and MDS presented the Campbells with a commemorative Bible.

Elsie doesn't mind that her new home is less than half the size of the old one. "I'm past the grieving, though at times I still think of something we lost, like Steve's paintings or the photo albums. But it's just stuff," she says with a smile. "We know God has a plan and a reason for all this. Maybe it was to meet all these people."

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