Where we started
During the summer of 1993, Missouri and other parts of the Midwest experienced what many called the “Flood of the Century.” Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed, thousands of people evacuated, never to return, and communities were changed forever. Soon after the evening news began broadcasting news and photos of the destruction and heartbreak, PBS aired a NOVA documentary about the “Great Flood of 1993.” Scott Harding, then a corporate executive at a West Michigan company and now NRN’s Founder & CEO, found himself moved to action after watching this show. He saw families struggling to recover from this horrific catastrophe. NOVA interviewed one couple, who confessed, after returning to their farmhouse, that the hardships had just begun. Scott states that as he saw the wife crying while she looked at her home, he knew he had to help her. He went to work the next day and began to organize an employee disaster relief trip. This first trip traveled to Missouri over Labor Day Weekend 1993. This trip was so well received by his colleagues that two more trips were organized and sent out before the end of the year.
During 1994, Scott organized four trips for his colleagues that aided communities affected by floods and tornadoes. At the end of that year, a co-worker who had participated in one of these trips asked Scott to put together a trip for her son’s high school. This led to similar requests from co-workers’ churches and other organizations, and the National Relief Network began. The National Relief Network was incorporated on June 25, 1995, and it received its a 501(c)(3) non-profit status in 1996. Scott eventually left his corporate position to devote all of his time to the NRN. The National Relief Network has been growing ever since.
For over twenty years, the National Relief Network has brought groups of volunteers to locations all over the country to aid in flood, fire, tornado, and hurricane relief. Our volunteers come from high schools, colleges, churches, corporations, and civic organizations. The NRN has responded to the attacks of September 11; Hurricanes Floyd, Camilla, Lily, Isabel, Charlie, Ivan, Dennis, and Katrina; flooding in Ohio, North Dakota, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia, and Iowa; tornadoes in Kentucky, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana; and forest fires in California.
Joining hands to defeat disasters remains our mission.