|Web-only photo courtesy of FEMA/Ed Edahl
Displaced people from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans are being given temporary shelter at Houston's Astrodrome.
Sept. 2, 2005
A UMNS Report
By Ciona D. Rouse*
United Methodist Church’s Texas Conference has committed to raising $1
million to feed the thousands of people fleeing to the area for shelter
following Hurricane Katrina.
have sent an appeal out to all of our churches asking them to take up a
special offering this Sunday (Sept. 4) that would come in here to the
conference office for that million dollars to do as Jesus said in
Matthew 25 and feed the hungry,” said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of the
church’s Houston Area.
online giving alone, United Methodists and others had donated more than
$900,000 to the United Methodist Committee on Relief as of the
afternoon of Sept. 2. Churches around the country were responding in
other ways to help evacuees from the storm-stricken Gulf Coast and
recovery efforts in that region.
The Texas Conference submitted a separate plea for money specifically to feed evacuees who have been streaming into the state.
|Web-only photo courtesy of FEMA/Ed Edahl
Hurricane refugees search for what they need in the boxes of contributed clothing at the Houston Astrodome.
the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hewlett-Packard Center
shelters in Houston, Huie said United Methodists would volunteer to
serve food in addition to contributing money for the week of Sept.
14-20. Conference volunteers will serve three meals per day and will
need 240 trained servers per shift. Providing 75,000 meals a day for the
week will cost $1 million.
for food service begins Sept. 3. Volunteers from out of state who want
to help should contact the conference center at (713) 521-9383. The
bishop also said volunteers would be present to the people for pastoral
want to tell their stories. They need to tell their stories. And
frequently what they need is just somebody to sit and listen to them
tell what has happened to them, to hear their loss, to grieve with them
about what has been lost, and to offer a word of hope and healing for
the future,” she said.
Silvus, member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, greeted a young
woman carrying a baby when they stepped off a bus filled with Hurricane
Katrina evacuees in Houston.
asked her how I could help her,” said Silvus, director of outreach
ministries at St. Luke’s. “She handed me a package of diapers and a can
of Similac, and that is all she had. All.”
and other members of her church volunteered to help relief efforts as
soon as the Red Cross sent an e-mail request for help at their shelter,
said the Rev. Jim Moore, pastor of St. Luke’s. Thousands of hurricane
evacuees have occupied Houston’s Astrodome, arriving on buses from New
Orleans. The city’s Superdome was evacuated as conditions worsened in
unbelievable,” Moore said. “My mother-in-law lives in a town with 7,000
people that has a bank, a doctor’s office, grocery stores and such. We
have more (people) than that in the Astrodome, and we don’t have any of
Moore said plans were in place to get a Social Security office, a bank and other services in the Astrodome for the evacuees.
|Web-only image courtesy of FEMA
A woman and her dog arrive by bus at a Red Cross shelter in the Houston Astrodome.
expected tens of thousands of refugees to arrive in the area. Officials
originally planned to house 25,000 evacuees in the Astrodome, but the
arena reached capacity at less than half that number. Houston Mayor Bill
White, also a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, opened
Reliant Center convention hall to 11,000 people Sept. 2 and was seeking
more space in Houston to house refugees.
in the Houston area opened shelters and took in as many people as they
could, providing showers, clothing, food and shelter, Huie said.
Lakeview Methodist Conference Center in nearby Palestine agreed to
accommodate 106 refugees from New Orleans who are mentally challenged.
Lon Morris College in Jacksonville invited displaced students of Dillard
University in New Orleans to attend the college with free room, board
and tuition, Huie said.
The bishop said she was “overwhelmed by the United Methodist response,” recognizing that recovery will take a long time.
|Courtesy of the Dept. of Defense
A National Guard truck fords floodwaters to bring supplies to the New Orleans Superdome.
“This is not a sprint. It is a marathon. We are in just the first stages here,” she said.
The conference’s Web site, www.txcumc.org,
maintains updates on the needs of the evacuees. The conference is
collecting items such as baby formula, diapers, bottles, towels, socks
and other necessary everyday items.
is no doubt that this is our calling and that is why we respond,”
Silvus said. “This is a response from the heart of the (United)
Methodist Church. I cannot express what it feels like to be a United
Methodist right now.”
United Methodist Committee on Relief organizes relief efforts for the
United Methodist Church. Donations to hurricane relief can be made
online at www.methodistrelief.org.
Checks can be made to UMCOR, designated for “Hurricanes 2005 Global,”
Advance No. 982523, and placed in church offering plates or sent
directly to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068. Donations are
also being taken by phone at (800) 554-8583.
*Rouse is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.