Aug. 27, 2004
A UMNS Report
By Kathy Gilbert*
Two weeks after
Hurricane Charley ripped off roofs and damaged the steeple of Grace
United Methodist Church in Cape Coral, Fla., church members received
bottles of water during communion as a reminder to serve their
|A UMNS photo courtesy Michael Wacht
Hundreds of volunteers are distributing water and ice to those affected by recent hurricanes.
served communion as a reminder of God’s hope and help, and then we gave
out bottles of water and asked them to pray about becoming hope and
help to the world," said the Rev. Jorge Acevedo, pastor of Grace.
are living in two worlds," he said. "We are recovering ourselves, but
we are also out helping other people. We walk a fine line; we have to
make sure we are taking care of our community and our neighbors and
loving them in Christ’s name."
Charley made landfall along the west coast of Florida Aug. 13, hitting
just north of Charlotte County, about 20 miles from Grace United
Methodist Church. The hurricane then tracked west of Orlando and exited
Florida’s east coast near Daytona Beach. It left behind 16 people dead
and billions of dollars in damage.
Conference assessments show the storm damaged 83 United Methodist church
facilities, said Tom Hazelwood, United Methodist Committee on Relief
executive secretary for U.S. Disaster Response, who has been in Florida
since Aug. 16. The Federal Emergency Management Agency projects that
more than 200,000 structures were damaged across Florida.
|A UMNS file photo by Michael Wacht
In 2004, hurricanes damaged more than 200,000 structures across Florida.
has sent 3,000 flood buckets, or cleanup kits, from its Sager Brown
Depot in Louisiana and North Carolina MERCI, Hazelwood wrote in an
update on relief efforts.
United Methodist agency also is calling for flood cleanup supplies to
replenish the thousands of flood buckets sent to Florida. Donors can
find a list of supplies and instructions for shipping online at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/print/kits/. A special worship resource, "Hurricanes 2004," is available at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/print/bulletininserts/hurricanes2004.cfm.
the most part, we have gone from emergency work and emergency ministry
to relief and recovery ministry," said Acevedo. "There are still large
portions of Charlotte County that are without electricity and are still
in emergency mode."
Church sent more than 400 volunteers during the week of Aug. 16 to help
with the relief and recovery effort and will send out more than 300 on
Aug. 28, Acevedo said. The church is also hosting UMCOR, Red Cross and
other teams from around the country.
were very fortunate," Acevedo said. "The hurricane came through on
Friday afternoon, and by Saturday, we had air conditioning. We were able
to do services that first Sunday, Aug. 15."
Though attendance that day was down by half, it was back up to about 1,700 the following Sunday, Aug. 22.
"Interestingly enough - I think it is a God thing - our giving was one of the best we have had all year."
Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker and the conference disaster response team
leaders met with UMCOR representatives Aug. 16. The "Florida Storm
Recovery Fund" Conference Special #605 was created to help victims. It
will provide grants directly to families and individuals, pay for
supplies and equipment, and pay a staff to oversee recovery efforts,
according to a letter sent by Whitaker to conference clergy and laity
is our hope that the Florida Storm Recovery Fund will provide much of
the money that will be needed to assist people in our communities,"
Whitaker wrote. "UMCOR will assist this effort by making additional
funds available from its general appeal, known as ‘Hurricanes 2004,’
to UMCOR should be earmarked for that appeal. Checks can be placed in
church offering plates or mailed directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Dr.,
Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Credit card donations can be made by
calling (800) 554-8583.
Florida Conference Disaster Response established a call center
(800-282-8011) to help volunteer teams, Hazelwood said. More than 1,000
volunteers have been sent to more than 35 sites across the disaster
are distributing food, water and ice as well as working in the
communities to make homes safe, sanitary and secure," Hazelwood said.
"Spiritual care is being provided in three primary areas: care of
pastoral leadership; care of congregations; and care and outreach to
task force will address the needs of migrant farm workers and the
low-income elderly. Plans for long-term recovery and case management are
also emerging, he said.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.