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United Methodists to assess hurricane’s impact

Drivers in the College Town neighborhood of Baton Rouge, La., are blocked Sept. 1 by downed trees following Hurricane Gustav. UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.

Sept. 2, 2008 | NEW YORK (UMNS) 

The United Methodist Committee on Relief is working with United Methodists in the U.S. Gulf Coast region to respond to Hurricane Gustav.

Two million people fled the Gulf Coast as Gustav approached, but the intensity of the storm, when it struck Sept. 1, did not reach that of Hurricane Katrina three years earlier. New Orleans, which had braced for the worst, escaped a direct hit as Gustav made landfall west of the city.

By the next day, the National Hurricane Center had downgraded Gustav to a tropical depression, but heavy rains and the threat of tornados lingered in the region.

Residents check on damage
in their neighborhood.

Gustav hit Baton Rouge, La., particularly hard, according to a United Methodist News Service reporter there.

UMCOR staff was expected to be on the ground in the region by Sept. 3 to begin assessing needs, according to the Rev. Tom Hazelwood, who leads UMCOR Emergency Services in the United States.

Before Gustav made landfall, UMCOR staff members were in touch with the denomination’s Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama-West Florida annual conferences to offer support.

The UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La., appeared to have suffered no structural damage from the hurricane, according to Hazelwood. Glenn Druilhet, the depot’s manager, reported that trees were down and power out in the Baldwin area, which escaped major damage.

Staff members had secured the warehouse in preparation for Gustav but left at noon Aug. 29 under mandatory evacuation orders. The depot is not expected to be operational again until the end of the week.

How to help

United Methodists are being encouraged by UMCOR to ship flood buckets and other kits to Sager Brown as soon as it reopens. Information about flood bucket preparation can be found online.

A few days earlier, Gustav killed at least 77 people and caused damage in Haiti. UMCOR personnel in Haiti also are assessing the need for a response to damage there by Gustav.

Donations to assist with relief efforts can be made to UMCOR Advance No. 3019695, “Hurricanes 2008, Hurricane Gustav,” for this emergency. Checks can be mailed to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Write the Advance number and name on the memo line of the check. Credit-card donations can be made online.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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