An Ohio Bridge
In our Ohio Conference there is a major disaster recovery project happening right now and probably for several years ahead. Major flooding in southwest West Virginia in Spring 2015 damaged many homes and damaged or destroyed 300 small bridges. Residents rely on the bridges to safely cross the many creeks that thread through their communities.
Without these bridges, residents cannot safely reach their homes; emergency services cannot reach the property. The bridges are usually privately owned, and residents in these extremely low-income communities do not have the resources to repair them. Without aid, many of these families may never have the ability to safely access their house.
In addition, anyone attempting legal repair of a bridge is hampered by the bevy of regulations governing the state-protected waterways.
These conditions have, until recently, prevented the larger faith community from attempting repairs using volunteers. However, in April 2015 a committee was formed to aggressively attack bridge construction issues involving costs, permitting and liability. Jim Ditzler, Ohio Conference Disaster Response Ministry Coordinator, is representing the Ohio Conference on the bridge committee. Many state agencies came to the table and successfully developed a practical permitting process.
Since that time our partner, the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), has led the way and successfully completed 10 bridges by utilizing a professional bridge engineer, MDS volunteers, and donations of funds and materials. Another faith partner will soon be continuing the construction effort. The West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) has been the major force behind this effort.
It is clear that funding is needed to repair the remaining hundreds of bridges. The estimated cost of one bridge is $16,000. West Virginia is part of the Ohio Conference; we can have a major impact on West Virginia communities by helping to rebuild one or more bridges.
A special account has been established in the Conference to receive donations. When we have raised $16,000, we will have the privilege to have a bridge named “THE OHIO BRIDGE.” Please be generous in your giving.
Checks, payable to Ohio Conference, can be sent to Ohio Conference UCC, 6161 Busch Blvd, Ste. 100, Columbus OH 43229. Include “bridge fund” in the memo line. Or you may donate online. Choose “Disaster Response Ministry” as your donation designation and add “bridge fund” in the comment box.