|United Methodists respond to Hurricane Dennis|
|A Web-only photo courtesy of NOAA
A satellite image shows Hurricane Dennis approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast on July 10.
July 11, 2005
satellite image shows Hurricane Dennis approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast
on July 10. This image, provided by NOAA, was posted on the United
Methodist Committee on Relief’s Web site. A Web-only photo courtesy of
National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration. Photo #w05-072.
Accompanies UMNS story #389. 7/11/05|
A UMNS Report
By Linda Green and Linda Bloom*
United Methodists in the Florida Panhandle and along the Gulf Coast,
still recovering from a hurricane 10 months ago, are thankful that the
damage from Hurricane Dennis was less than expected.
Church-related agencies and regional conferences were beginning damage assessments and calling for volunteer help on July 11.
Hurricane Dennis, which made its U.S. landfall July 10, brought rain,
winds and tornado warnings to parts of the Florida Panhandle, Georgia,
Alabama and Mississippi. Dennis was the fourth named storm of the year,
marking the first time the Atlantic hurricane season has had four named
storms this early since 1851.
Before hitting the United States, the storm killed 32 people in Haiti
and Cuba, in addition to destroying homes, crops and livestock, and it
caused severe flooding in Jamaica. A man in Decatur, Ga., also was
killed July 11. The storm has been downgraded to a tropical depression.
Hurricane Ivan, which had identical top winds of 120 mph, killed 29
people in the Florida Panhandle last September and caused more than $7
billion damage in the Southeast, according to USA Today. Early damage
reports on Hurricane Dennis cited eroded beaches, uprooted trees, local
flooding and damaged fences. Some panhandle homes still await new roofs
after Ivan’s $14 billion assault, the paper reported.
“We are still recovering from last year’s hurricane and still need work
teams for that,” said Marilyn Swanson, project director for storm
recovery for the United Methodist Church’s Florida Annual (regional)
Conference. “Some of these areas had tropical winds which damaged
buildings that were in the process of repair. This is where our focus
is. The hurricane did affect some buildings, and we still need teams to
|A UMNS file photo by Meredyth Earnest
Blue tarps give evidence of Hurricane Ivan’s impact on Alabama in fall 2004.
There is flooding in areas of the conference, and disaster response
workers are trying to assess where the flooding has occurred and what
type of help is needed in the flooded areas in the Florida Keys and
Jefferson County, she said. Except for the Florida Keys, few areas had
mandatory evacuations, so churches set up by the Red Cross and other
relief agencies as refugee sites were not used. At the hurricane’s
height, at least 5,000 people were in shelters.
tarps give evidence of Hurricane Ivan’s impact on Alabama communities
in fall 2004. Many communities along the Gulf Coast were still
recovering from Ivan when Hurricane Dennis made landfall July 11. A UMNS
file photo by Meredyth Earnest. Photo #05-112. Accompanies UMNS story
The conference knows that damage occurred in some areas but has not
heard from the areas hardest hit and anticipates being able to provide
some assistance to the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference, she said.
Florida officials encourage those interested in working on recovery
efforts from last year’s Hurricane Ivan or the recent Hurricane Dennis
to call (800) 282-8011, Ext. 149.
On July 11, the day after Hurricane Dennis made landfall, officials in
the United Methodist Alabama-West Florida Conference also expressed
relief that the storm was weaker than anticipated, but they were still
concerned about towns such as Navarre Beach, Fla., that were directly in
Dennis’ path, according to Meredyth Earnest, conference communicator.
Arrangements were being made to do initial damage assessments, and the
conference posted a toll-free number, (866) 340-1956, for people to call
to report damage or request help.
United Methodists in Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., are also relieved that
there was not major damage. Voluntary evacuations compelled some
churches to cancel Sunday services, but as of July 11, conference
officials noted that some wind damage may have occurred at local
churches but they had not heard of any major problems.
The Rev. Tom Hazelwood, domestic disaster response coordinator for the
United Methodist Committee on Relief, was headed to the Pensacola, Fla.
area, on July 11, to help with damage assessment. Pensacola caught the
brunt of the hurricane.
The Rev. Tom Hazelwood
On UMCOR’s Web site, Hazelwood said he was concerned about the storm’s
potential for flooding as it moves away from costal areas. “We
anticipate a lot of needs in the rural areas of Alabama and Mississippi,
in addition to the coastline.”
Downgraded to a tropical depression, Dennis was expected to dump rain on
parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana, according to the
National Hurricane Center. Tornados also were possible. Flooding
warnings were in effect July 11 for the Atlanta area, and most of north
and central Georgia was under a flood watch. President Bush has declared
federal disaster areas in parts of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.
Contributions to United Methodist recovery efforts should be designated
to Hurricanes 2005 Global, Advance No. 982523. Checks to UMCOR can be
placed in church offering plates or mailed directly to UMCOR, P.O. Box
9068, New York, NY 10087-9068. To make a credit-card donation, call
UMCOR also needs donations of flood buckets filled with cleaning
supplies. For more information, call UMCOR Sager Brown at (800) 814-8765
or visit http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/print/kits/ on UMCOR’s Web site.
*Green and Bloom are news writers for United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com
Churches offer shelter, aid to evacuees fleeing Hurricane Ivan
Florida United Methodists establish special fund for hurricane relief
Hurricane Dennis arrives
Florida Annual Conference
Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference
UMCOR Sager Brown