Anyone dedicated to helping rebuild homes and lives in Central Arkansas following the April 27 tornado is invited to attend a day-long training event Tuesday, July 29, in Conway. It will be of special interest to long-term recovery leadership, faith-based groups, religious leaders, community leaders, social service organizations, disaster case managers and other persons concerned about recovery.

Church World Service, along with several other national disaster relief organizations and Arkansas state partners, are organizing the free "Recovery Tools and Training" event, which will cover needs assessment, disaster case management, volunteer and construction management, volunteer hosting, and emotional and spiritual care.

The event will begin with check-in at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 4:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 1610 Prince St. Pre-registration is not required but is strongly recommended; call 1-866-732-6121 or email

Partners with CWS in providing the training are Arkansas VOAD, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Lutheran Disaster Response, World Renew, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, United Methodist Committee on Relief, and State and FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons.

Recovery from a disaster event requires a whole-community approach. This workshop gives an overview of long-term recovery and shares lessons learned and best practices gathered from decades of experience in large and small disasters.

"Our job is to make sure everyone has a chance to recover, regardless of their means," said Sandra Kennedy-Owes, a CWS emergency response specialist based in Mobile, Ala., among workshop presenters. She said the training "seeks to strengthen community-based long-term recovery committees as they help rebuild homes and lives."

Hundreds of people were affected when, on April 27, a destructive EF4 tornado was produced in west Pulaski County and tracked 41 miles through Mayflower and Vilonia in Faulkner County before dissipating near El Paso, in White County. The track was 40.3 miles long, according to the National Weather Service. There were 16 fatalities. More than 800 properties were affected, with 337 homes destroyed, 102 more that suffered major damage, and 183 with minor damage.

Survivors will need help from their local communities and beyond, including material donations and volunteer labor, to be able to reach a "new normal" in safe homes.

"Recovery Tools and Training" is a program of the humanitarian agency Church World Service, and has been used across the country to assist local communities in their community-based long-term recovery efforts.

CWS, an ecumenical agency with 37 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member communions, is a close working partner in the United States with the American Red Cross, National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and FEMA in helping people put their lives back together after a disaster. The agency also is known for its work to combat hunger and poverty, including the CROP Hunger Walk; its U.S. refugee resettlement work, and its international humanitarian assistance program.