Disaster Ministries update

Disaster Ministries update
The Rev. Laura Ice, recovery co-ordinator for the Florida Conference, listens intently to school principal, Jim Ragusa, tell about Hurricane Irma's damage to Everglades City, Fla. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS

October 30, 2017

The aftermath of Hurricanes, Harvey, Irma, Maria and the wildfires in the West have devastated enormous parts of the United States. The real work of recovery is just beginning and help in the form of volunteers will be needed for years.
Many of you have asked: 
How can we help? 
Can we go?  
When can we go? 
What do they need? 

Here are a few of those answers.

On Friday, October 20, 2017, UMCOR held a conference call with the Conference Disaster Coordinators with updates regarding our ongoing response to hurricanes, floods, and fires. All of the coordinators ask for your continued prayers. Financial support can be given thru Special Advance #901670. Checks can be sent to the Iowa Annual Conference (2301 Rittenhouse St., Des Moines, IA 50321) with Advance #901670 indicated on it and it will be sent to UMCOR.
How you can Help TODAY

  • PRAY for those affected and those responding.
  • GIVE a financial gift. UMCOR U.S. Response, Special Advance #901670. UMCOR International Response, Special Advance #982450.
  • SUPPORT the work of UMCOR Depot at Sager Brown and Midwest Missions Distribution Center as they process and ship kits and supplies to Disaster-affected areas.
  • GET TRAINED as an Early Response Team (ERT) or GET TRAINED as a UMVIM Team Leader. To schedule a training, contact Pastor Catie Newman, Iowa Annual Conference Disaster Response Coordinator at or (712) 899-4067. 

Most of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in in the central and southern parts of Florida. More than 200 UM Churches are directly affected. Currently, 15,000 people have been housed in temporary housing and 285,000 are waiting for temporary housing. Florida is in the process of transitioning from disaster response (emergency) to long-term recovery. Much work needs to be done. Groups interested in volunteering in Florida should go to the Florida conference website and register as a team or call (855) 228-3862. They will contact you with confirmation of your dates to serve and where you are needed. They ask, “Please do not simply show up because we have no way to handle unexpected volunteers as housing will be strictly scheduled."
Puerto Rico
The situation in Puerto Rico is DIRE, more than 250,000 homes have been damage, over 100,000 completely lost. No electricity or clean water, they are being told: “maybe by December”. The United Methodist Churches in Puerto Rico are working together to provide hot meals and serving as Distribution Centers for food and water for survivors. They are still in the disaster response stage (emergency), making assessments and still struggling to gain access to villages in the mountains. In time, volunteers will be invited, however, it will be the most basic living situations and very strenuous. Only ERT trained and badged teams will be accepted. Six UMCOR shipping containers have already arrived in Puerto Rico and six more UMCOR containers will be in route this week
The US Virgin Islands
Similar to Puerto Rico, the islands have been devastated by Hurricane Maria. At this time no teams are invited but in the future, there will be opportunities to help with long-term recovery. UMCOR shipments have arrived there. The reality of transportation and accessibility are overwhelming. UMCOR International Response is responding to the International Virgin Islands. You can support that work through Special Advance #982450.
Several conferences in Texas have been affected by Hurricane Harvey.

They have finished the initial response (emergency stage) and are beginning the long task of recovery. Volunteer housing sites are being established.

Volunteers are invited now; however, they are requesting at least one ERT Trained volunteer on each team. Go to the Texas Annual Conference Texas Recovers web page, you will find direct links to register as a team to volunteer, donate and for more information. Once you register they will contact you with details and more information.

They are still in need of ERT Trained Teams to help with initial response, muck-out, tarping and assessment. You can register by going to the Rio Texas Conference website and follow the link to sign-up a team. Several “Volunteer Villages” are being established in order to house and feed volunteers for the duration of long-term recovery. UMVIM teams are invited to begin signing up to come to the Rio Texas Conference. The Iowa shower trailer is now in Sinton, Texas and will be serving the volunteer village there.
The fires that raged through Napa, Sonoma, Santa Rosa as now 70% - 90% contained. They are still in the early stages of response and ask for NO ERT Teams, there is nothing left. Housing is a huge issue and temporary housing is at a premium. In time, when they begin long-term recovery, teams will be invited to help rebuild. UMCOR Emergency Grants are already in place.   
Disaster Response Coordinators (DRC)
Conference Coordinators – Catie and John Newman
Catie: (712) 899-4067 phone/text