A letter from Chip Arnold in response to Bishop Dan's call for assistance to the victims of the Fernley flood
January 11, 2008
Dear Diocese of Nevada,
A thousand thanks for your thoughts, prayers, and heartfelt concerns for the flood victims of Fernley! My sincere apologies for not back to you all sooner, but our son is visiting from Virginia, and this is my first day back at work. That being said, I have been in communication with the bishop, and have spent the last several days assessing how we might best serve the people of Fernley. Here’s what I know:
As Bishop Dan indicated in his letter earlier this week, the emergency response on Saturday, the morning of the flood, was remarkable. A temporary Red Cross shelter was set up at Fernley High School. I heard first hand from a representative of the Lyon County Sheriffs Department that over five hundred people registered to spend Saturday night at the school, and only thirty-five folks ended up staying there. The rest were taken in by family, friends, neighbors, co-workers etc. One unsung hero used his bonus check from work to buy a block of rooms at a Fernley motel! Local churches and businesses responded immediately by providing food and clothing to flood victims. Neighbors pitched in to help one another with the initial clean-up process.
As there is currently no Episcopal presence in Fernley, it’s been decided that the best way for our diocese respond is with financial aid and pastoral support in the weeks and months to come. The flooded area is in mostly newer subdivisions, inhabited by middle income families consisting of first-time homeowners, retired folks and renters with a variety of short and long term needs.
Folks are eager to get there lives back on track. All Fernley schools were open on Tuesday morning. I asked the Principal of Cottonwood Elementary what attendance was like on that first day. He said that of the 750, or so, students that attend the school, sixty were absent, which is similar to any given Monday or first day following a long holiday.
Although the floodwaters have subsided, no real rebuilding and repairs can occur until things dry out. Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating too well. Please pray for sunshine and warmer temperatures!
As you know by now, a special diocesan discretionary account has been set up through St. Paul’s, Sparks, with Dick Stufflebeam, the Reverend Eric Lawrence, and I as co-signatories.
I have contacts with Lyon County, the City of Fernley, Cottonwood Elementary School, and Fernley Lutheran Church who are thrilled to help facilitate our efforts by screening and prioritizing the needs of those requiring assistance. They understand and completely agree that our outreach should be for flood relief only. My contacts are deeply moved with our desire to help and have volunteered to work in a manner that bypasses much of the red-tape associated with government agencies.
Bishop Dan and I plan to tour Fernley on Monday. In the meantime please spread the word about the flood relief fund on your parish websites and in your church and community bulletins. It would be most beneficial if you would continue to do so for the next several weeks, but most importantly, please continue to keep the people of Fernley in your thoughts and prayers!
Blessings to you all!
St. Paul’s Sparks