Sept. 24, 2004
A UMNS Report
By Linda Beher*
As the Caribbean and
parts of the United States reel from recent hurricanes, the United
Methodist Church is responding with relief on several fronts.
|A UMNS photo by Michael Wacht
Debris litters the sanctuary of Fort Pierce (Fla.) Haitian United Methodist Church after Hurricane Frances.
United Methodist Committee on Relief is making an initial response to
the devastation wreaked on the island of Haiti by Tropical Storm Jeanne,
being blamed for more than 1,100 deaths. UMCOR already feeds 16,000
Haitian schoolchildren a day and provides funds for health programs and
will partner with Action by Churches Together, an international aid
alliance, in responding to the needs in Haiti. ACT is assessing response
options, according to UMCOR. An assessment team has reached Gonaives,
where urgent needs include fresh water, food, emergency shelter and
addition, UMCOR’s office for refugee ministries is calling on people to
advocate for granting temporary protected status to Haitian immigrants
who may be threatened with immediate return to Haiti. Designating Haiti
for this status would allow Haitians already in the United States to
remain until recovery from the recent storms has improved stability back
home. Details are available at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/04/haitiprotected.cfm.
hitting Haiti, Jeanne has headed toward Florida as a hurricane and is
expected to make landfall by Sept. 26. More than 350,000 Floridians have
been asked to evacuate. Jeanne would be the fourth hurricane to hit
Florida since mid-August, following Charley, Frances and Ivan.
Meanwhile, remnants of Ivan are threatening Texas and Louisiana.
the Alabama-West Florida Annual (regional) Conference, workers have
begun the long cleanup. "United Methodists in this conference have been
inspirational in providing their expertise in cleaning and caring," said
the Rev. Kristin Sachen, program head of emergency services for UMCOR.
The power of Hurricane Ivan’s storm surge ripped away beach areas a
block deep, and wind flattened many homes in the Pensacola, Fla., area.
has already provided $10,000 in relief funding to the Alabama-West
Florida Conference, and the conference reported that it is working on
requests for additional money.
has established a disaster line and an e-mail address where volunteers
can check job sites and learn about critical needs for supplies. The
telephone number for people in the conference is (866) 340-1956; the
e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
|A UMNS photo by Meredyth Earnest
A home in Monroeville, Ala., bears the mark of Hurricane Ivan.
Florida Annual Conference has demonstrated their hearts’ understanding
of how to be in mission," Sachen said. "Leadership there from the
bishop, conference leaders and local churches has been especially
effective." Workers in Arcadia, Punta Gorda, Fort Pierce and other
areas, where a triple punch of hurricanes devastated thousands of homes
and commercial buildings, are serving some of the most vulnerable
populations. Farm workers, the elderly and immigrants from Haiti have
Donations can be made online for UMCOR’s appeal, "Hurricanes 2004," Advance #982410. At www.MethodistRelief.org,
a secure server allows donors to enter credit-card information. Checks
written to UMCOR can be placed in church offering plates or mailed
directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 330, New York, N.Y. 10115.
Donations by credit card can be made by calling, toll free, (800)
Gifts to UMCOR may be designated for assistance to specific regions affected by the storms or directed to "where most needed."
offering plate needs to go around many times" in a season of multiple
storms, Sachen said, "in order to ensure that we can offer hope and
healing to all who count on UMCOR."
from the hurricanes ranged up the eastern side of the United States.
United Methodists in several states are responding to flooding caused by
the Western Pennsylvania Conference, Bishop Thomas Bickerton has urged
United Methodists to respond to flooding, which caused tens of millions
of dollars in damages. He also is asking his 900 churches to collect a
special offering for area flood victims.
Western North Carolina, the Lake Junaluska (N.C.) Conference Center is
helping the Federal Emergency Management Agency with housing for 100
people displaced by flooding or working on the cleanup effort.
continues to need flood buckets containing supplies that volunteers use
in post-hurricane cleanup. Specifications can be found online at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/print/kits/.
Completed flood buckets-with $1.50 per bucket to cover
reshipping-should be sent to UMCOR Sager Brown, 101 Sager Brown Road,
Baldwin, La. 70514.
is communications director for the United Methodist Committee on Relief
in New York. Information for this story was also provided by Meredyth
Earnest in the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference, Mark Rehn in the
Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference, and Ken Howle at Lake Junaluska
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.