Serving the community since 1970

Storm Encounter makes disaster real

Nearly 80 people toured the Storm Encounter exhibit at the Mennonite Brethren Church in Shafter last week. According to Deanna Thompson, a member of the Mennonite Brethren Church and a volunteer for the Mennonite Disaster Service, said that she and her husband, Corwin, had the trailer for a couple of weeks, taking the exhibit to different areas of Kern County. "We had a great time meeting a lot of new people and sharing this experience with them."

The Storm Encounter trailer is a multimedia theater that gives a group of eight people at a time, an experience that mimics a natural disaster. The chairs in the trailer rumble and shake, as well as a dip in the temperature in the room, as well as mists of "rain" as the windows are shattered on screen when the tornado hits the structure.

It was a moving and touching presentation, as the viewer can see the aftermath of a tornado, and what devastation it causes. "You really can't imagine what people go through to lose everything. From their home, their belongings, a lot of times their sense of peace."

Mennonite Disaster Service works to bring back that peace, and help them rebuild their communities, one home and one day at a time.

The MDS went to Lake Isabella when they had a series of wildfires that caused severe damage to homes and terrain throughout the area. Workers were there helping the homeowners with labor to help rebuild. Roger Riley, project manager of the Kingsburg MDS, said that the homeowners do not have to pay a penny out of pocket for rebuilding that is done. "Donations are made and materials are donated, as well as if the homeowner happens to have any insurance that might pay for some of it, the project is done by a community effort."

MDS provides the labor for the projects. They welcome anyone who would like to make a difference in someone's life, who may have experienced a devastating loss. Thompson said, "No experience is needed. They will teach you whatever needs to be done. They have wonderful leaders that are experienced and show you what to do."

Thompson and her husband are on their way to Idaho this week, going for a couple of weeks to help at a site in that area. "I will be cooking in the kitchen and my husband will be helping direct the workers on what to do and how to do it."

"It has been such a life-changing experience for us," added Thompson.

For more information, go to, or call 800-241-8111.


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