News Archives

United Methodists to help with Charley relief

 


United Methodists to help with Charley relief

Aug. 16, 2004 ALL-RM {373}

By United Methodist News Service

Photo by the Rev. Larry Rankin

Arcadia, Florida's Trinity United Methodist Church was just one of many buildings damaged during Hurricane Charley.

As Floridians begin to recover from the effects of Hurricane Charley, United Methodists are responding to relief needs.

The hurricane, described by the United Methodist Committee on Relief as the worst storm to hit western Florida in 100 years, struck Aug. 13 before surging up the East Coast to the Carolinas and Virginia. The hurricane, with its sustained winds of 131 mph to 155 mph, was responsible for at least 16 deaths and billions of dollars in damage to Florida alone.

Anticipating Hurricane Charley’s arrival, UMCOR had shipped all available flood buckets to Florida from its Sager Brown Depot in Louisiana. Partnering with the agency on providing flood cleanup supplies were Mercy Center in North Carolina; Midwest Distribution Center, Illinois, and Mission Central, Pennsylvania.

F. Thomas Hazelwood, UMCOR’s director of emergency services, was scheduled to arrive Aug. 16 in Florida to meet with church-related disaster coordinators and assist with assessment of relief needs. Members of the United Methodist Florida Annual (regional) Conference also met Aug. 15 in Orlando to begin formulating a response.

"We’re in the phase of trying to assess communities," said the Rev. David Harris, the Florida Conference’s disaster response coordinator and pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, Arcadia, Fla. Harris told e-Review, the conference’s online news service, that several districts contacted him to find out what can be done, but it’s not clear at this point which areas will be the focus of relief efforts.

Photo by Julie Jo Adams

Many homes in Orlando were left without electricity or water after the storm.

The members of the conference disaster response team will be meeting people’s needs from Fort Myers to Daytona Beach and along the state’s I-4 corridor, according to the e-Review.

The goal for the Aug. 16 meeting would be to decide a strategy for the response, said the Rev. Larry Rankin, director of the conference’s Equipping Network’s Missions ministry and disaster response efforts. "Some areas . . . we just don’t know yet (the extent of damage) because of the communications. Many communities still do not have electricity or ways to communicate their needs," he said. Churches along the storm’s path would become centers of relief coordination, according to the Florida conference’s website.

The disaster response team expected to receive damage reports from district offices and disaster response coordinators at the Aug. 16 meeting.

The Arcadia area received significant damage from the hurricane, Harris said. "Most of the homes here are sticks and lots of trailer parks look like war zones. The devastation is horrible. There is tremendous damage to downtown and buildings have been cordoned off." The extent of the damage in Arcadia is similar to the devastation in the retirement communities of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. President George Bush, a United Methodist, toured devastated areas by helicopter on Aug. 15 and provided comfort to Punta Gorda residents.

Harris said that churches have been assisting in relief efforts by delivering food house-to-house and by arranging crews to help tarp roofs so that people will be dry. "At Trinity, we opened our church up and delivered more than 1,000 meals to people on Aug. 15," he said.

The damage to the Arcadia area compelled Harris to relinquish his disaster response coordinator position to Rankin. "My area was hit so hard that I had to step out of the role. There are make-shift strategies going on all over," he said.

Knowing that the Hurricane Charley would leave significant damage behind, the conference’s claims adjustment company was open over the Aug. 13-15 weekend to receive property claims from United Methodist churches.

Prior to giving up the reins, Harris told e-Review that there is one certain thing about relief efforts. "This may take quite some time to finish working with those who are affected by this disaster. We [the United Methodist Church] are here for the long haul," he said. "When the news has stopped reporting the impact of Charley, when the agencies have all left Florida, we will still be here, and we will need to continue our focus on helping people."

Volunteers wanting to assist in recovery efforts may call UMCOR’s toll-free volunteer hotline at (800) 918-3100.

UMCOR is asking United Methodist to help replenish its supply of flood buckets in what is now the beginning of hurricane season. The buckets include such items as sponges, brushes, trash bags and various types of cleaning materials. Specifications can be found at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/print/kits online. Completed flood buckets should be sent to UMCOR Sager Brown, 101 Sager Brown Rd., Baldwin, LA 70514.

UMCOR is also requesting donations for its Material Resource Ministry, Advance #901440 for cleaning supplies that the staff and volunteers at the Sager Brown Depot will use to assemble flood buckets.

Donations for the denomination’s response to Charley and other hurricanes should be earmarked for Hurricanes 20004, UMCOR Advance No. 982410. Checks written to UMCOR can be placed in church offering plates or mailed directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, N.Y. 10115. Credit card donations can be made by calling, toll-free, (800) 554-8583.

# # #

News media contact: Linda Bloom·(646) 369-3759·New York·E-mail: newsdesk@umcom.org.

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

First Name:*
Last Name:*
Email:*
ZIP/Postal Code:*
Question:*

*InfoServ ( about ) is a service of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW


Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add InfoServ@umcom.org to your list of approved senders.