|Lack of donations challenges Ike relief|
Janie Montellano cleans out storm-driven mud and debris from
the home of a neighbor in Surfside Beach, Texas, following Hurricane
UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Oct. 2, 2008 | HOUSTON (UMNS)
Hurricane Ike’s arrival was bad timing.
Flood buckets are stocked at Sager Brown, the United Methodist Committee on Relief depot in Baldwin, La.
Even though the Sept. 13 storm left behind miles of demolished homes,
businesses and churches along the Texas Gulf Coast, the Wall Street
debacle and presidential debates stole its thunder in the national
Hurricane Ike damaged more than 200 United Methodist structures in
the Texas Annual Conference, making it the biggest disaster the
conference has faced to date.
“For communities recovering from Hurricane Rita just three years ago,
Ike’s blow threatens to overwhelm their sense of confidence in the
future,” said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie. “In addition, the economic
uncertainty in our nation and world is eliciting anxiety in almost
Media attention quickly turned away, added the Rev. Tom Hazelwood,
United Methodist Committee on Relief’s domestic relief director. “Media
coverage is important. It keeps the disaster in front of the public.
“All my colleagues in the Red Cross, United Way, Southern Baptists—everyone is hurting (from lack of donations),” he said.
“It is still too early to have a good number, but I fully expect our
donations will be down,” Huie said. “Folk outside of
Houston/Galveston/Beaumont are wondering, ‘What hurricane?’ I’m
preparing for the worst, working for the best and hoping for at least
somewhere in between.”
United Methodists are no different from the rest of the nation,
according to Hazelwood. Everyone is suffering from the bad economic
news. “However, our normal supporters of UMCOR will still be there, but
the amount they are able to send may change,” he explained.
Hazelwood doesn’t believe in “donor fatigue. People still believe in the mission of UMCOR, and that is encouraging.”
Appeal for help
In a Sept. 29 e-mail letter appealing for help, Huie is asking pastors
across the United Methodist Church to take a special offering for
Hurricane Ike recovery on Oct. 5. She made a similar appeal a week
“We need your generous financial support to deal with catastrophic expenses in communities and congregations,” she said.
“We have learned a great deal in the last three years,” she said in the
letter. “For example, we have learned that volunteer hours double every
dollar given to recovery. We know that the early response of The United
Methodist Church invites other groups to engage with us and stay
committed to long-term recovery. Whatever you give in time and money is
multiplied many times over.”
Hazelwood said the conference and churches are working on DVDs and other
ways to get the message of Ike’s destruction before congregations.
The Rev. Cynthia Harvey, director of missional excellence for the Texas
Conference, said 83 teams have registered online to work on recovery
efforts. More than 60 churches from the conference have engaged in
relief efforts such as serving as Red Cross shelters, putting together
flood buckets and hosting and sending work teams.
“Truckloads of water, food and other supplies have appeared on our
doorstep, thanks to the extravagant generosity of United Methodists
across the country,” Harvey said. “Many teams are now registering to be
in the area over spring break, and we are working on a spring break
UMCOR supplies are positioned
for relief efforts.
How to give
Huie wrote, “To another church facing suffering, hardship and even
persecution, the Apostle Paul wrote, ‘Rejoice in hope, be patient in
suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints.
Extend hospitality to strangers.’ (Romans 12:12-13)
“I am confident that your joy, patience, prayer, hospitality and
generosity in response to this disaster will change lives and re-shape
futures for Jesus Christ.”
To aid in Hurricane Ike disaster relief in Texas and Louisiana, give online,
drop checks in United Methodist church offering plates or send them to
UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087, with "Advance No. 3019695,
Hurricanes 2008" on the memo line.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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