6:30 P.M. EST June 7, 2010 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
Gerald Davis of Salem United Methodist Church in Evansville, Ind.,
repairs the floor of a flooded home in Nashville, Tenn. A UMNS photo by
As a “1,000-year flood” drenched the southeastern United States
early last month, viewers were glued to their TVs and other media.
However, most of the news reports they saw focused on the Gulf of
Mexico oil spill and the attempted bombing in Times Square, drawing
attention—and funds—away from communities pummeled by spring storms.
Responding to the crisis, the United Methodist Committee on Relief
on June 8 issued a special appeal—U.S. Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance
#901670—for all affected areas in the southeastern United States.
UMCOR e-mailed the appeal to regular donors.
“So much rain fell in two days in Tennessee—15 or more inches in
some spots—that experts refer to the event as a ‘1,000-year flood,’ not
expecting to see another like it in that span of time,” the Rev.
Cynthia Harvey, UMCOR executive, said in the e-mail. “Besides middle
and western Tennessee, rain also poured over south-central and western
Kentucky and northern Mississippi. Creeks and rivers overflowed their
banks and caused flash flooding.”
Crops, especially in west Tennessee, suffered severe storm damage.
Families without flood insurance—and many had considered themselves
safe from such an event—experienced catastrophic losses.
Volunteers, some from as far away as California, clean out a southeast
Tennessee home that was damaged in the May floods. Photo by Tom
In Nashville, Memphis and towns and villages spread over 52
counties, neighbors helped neighbors; and volunteers arrived by the
busload. Others assembled cleaning buckets and sent them to UMCOR Sager
Brown and annual conference depots to deliver to those in need.
However, Harvey said, “news coverage of the disaster receded faster than the floodwaters.”
‘Great need for funding’
“The best estimates say it will be at least two years before the
people of Tennessee fully recover from the flood of 2010,” Harvey
“There is great need for funding,” the Rev. Tom Hazelwood said.
Hazelwood, who coordinates UMCOR disaster response in the United
States, the Caribbean and Latin America, added, “We want to draw
our donors’ attention to this great need so that The United Methodist
Church can respond and help as many needy families as possible.”
“Farmers have lost crops and equipment,” said Bill Carr, Memphis
Annual (regional) Conference relief coordinator. “Once beautiful,
level farmlands are now strewn with cars, tree limbs and other debris
carried by floodwaters.
“People are out of school, out of work and out of money. There’s a lot of stress.”
UMCOR has worked with the affected conferences since the storms
struck, Hazelwood reported. “We have provided initial emergency
grants, thousands of cleanup buckets and personnel.”
The Rev. Jason T. Brock, denominational relief coordinator for the
Tennessee Annual Conference, said, “We've been blessed with lots of
volunteers, cleaning supplies, food, hygiene, items and cash in meeting
some of the immediate relief and cleanup needs. As we begin to
transition to long-term rebuilding and unmet needs, we'll be asking for
new ways you can serve Christ and neighbor.”
‘We are the church together’
Key to the recovery process, he noted, are volunteers “to do
rebuilding, offer free counseling services, serve on local community
long-term recovery committees (and) at donation/distribution centers,
In the denomination's Mississippi Conference, the Rev. Wayne Napier,
disaster coordinator, expressed thanks for assistance and donations.
“Please continue to help in every way you can, as often as you can,” he said. “We are the church together.”
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.
News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.