As we watch the developing story of Hurricane Florence and the damage in the Carolinas, Virginia and points west, churches and volunteers are already responding to flooding in Rowan and Menifee Counties that occurred last week.
Friday, volunteers will be delivering 150 cleaning buckets to Morehead United Methodist Church for Rowan and Menifee. Saturday there will be United Methodist Early Response Team members working in those counties side by side with local churches in cleanup efforts. There will be additional needs that we will work toward providing for both within the Conference and with our Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster partners.
Looking forward and preparing for what Florence may bring, it is good to review what is already being done. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has activated the Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces from several jurisdictions and has prepositioned them near the potential disaster areas. These Taskforces source from Virginia, Ohio, New York, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, and 3 from California. In addition, Tennessee and Kentucky are sending swift water rescue specialist and emergency communication specialist to the areas to assist. The American Red Cross and other relief agencies are also gearing up to move supplies and personnel. This is just a sampling of the resources being mobilized to respond to this hurricane.
What can we be doing in the meantime? It will be a couple of weeks before the emergency phase of this hurricane starts transitioning toward the relief phase. The relief phase of a disaster is the earliest time for outside volunteer teams to be allowed in the disaster areas. What can we be doing now?
• Things we can be doing start with prayer. Prayer for all the people impacted by this hurricane, prayer for the first responders, and all the personnel mobilized.
• We can be contributing to UMCOR and the US Disaster Response, Advance #901670
. This will help fund grants and other relief and recovery efforts.
• We can prepare groups by training and developing equipment and funds for mission responses when invitations are made for outside help. The disaster response arm of the Conference and UMVIM can assist you in these efforts.
• We can take this example and look at ourselves and ask if we are prepared for a disaster in our own communities. We can look at our own situations and make plans and take steps to mitigate potential disaster impacts and provide better preparation for ourselves, our churches and our communities. We can take this as an incentive to build our capacity to make responses within our own Conference when needed and be better prepared to make response outside of our Conference.
Please, DO NOT, consider sending clothing or other unsolicited supplies to the areas impacted. If you have clothing you wish to donate, send it to Mountain Mission or to a local clothing bank. The funds you may consider for other supplies would be better used by UMCOR or a local team gearing up to go and work in the impacted areas when invited.
If you are interested in being part of a disaster response ministry in your community, your district, and your Conference, please contact your District Office to start the process of how you can be a part of the recovery effort.
How to contact your district