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UMCOR goes into action as hurricane strikes coast

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
Courtesy of Marty Bahamonde/FEMA

Residents of New Orleans sought shelter at the Superdome in advance of Hurricane Katrina.
Aug. 29, 2005

By Michelle Scott*

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church’s relief agency was already at work preparing for Hurricane Katrina before the Category 4 storm hit Louisiana.

Tom Hazelwood, disaster response executive for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, had been in contact with the bishops and disaster coordinators in the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama-West Florida annual (regional) conferences since before Katrina made landfall in Louisiana Aug. 29.

As soon as the storm moved out of those regions, UMCOR planned to begin working with annual conferences to set up call centers and begin making assessments. The assessment process will take days to begin in some regions due to the extensive damage, the agency said.

“In the hardest-hit areas, it may be a week before we can get in to make assessments,” Hazelwood said. UMCOR has been working with the Florida Conference as United Methodists in the area continue to recover from Katrina’s initial strike Aug. 25 in southern Florida.

In coming days, UMCOR said it would work with annual conferences to coordinate relief efforts, such as receiving volunteers, making assessments and distributing aid. Hazelwood planned to go to the hurricane-affected area to assist in the disaster recovery.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
Courtesy of Marvin Nauman/FEMA

A destroyed mobile home in Florida shows the power of Hurricane Katrina.
“As the storm clears and the media focuses on the major metropolitan areas affected by Katrina, UMCOR will be focusing on its mission to seek out the people left most vulnerable by the storm, who often live in outlying rural areas,” Hazelwood said. “We seek to help people who might be otherwise overlooked.”

UMCOR’s center for relief supplies, UMCOR Sager Brown, in Baldwin, La., was closed Aug. 29 in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina. The depot is about 50 miles northwest of New Orleans, which was largely evacuated in advance of the storm. UMCOR officials said they hoped to reopen Sager Brown Aug. 30. All supplies sent to assist in hurricane recovery should be sent to the Sager Brown center.

United Methodists can help in the response by:

• Contributing to UMCOR Advance No. 982523, “Hurricanes 2005 Global.” Contributions can be made online at, at local churches, or by phone at (800) 554-8583. Checks can also be mailed directly to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068. Checks should be written to UMCOR with the Advance number and name written on the memo line. Checks to support recovery in a specific region should reflect that.

• Assembling flood buckets filled with cleaning supplies for people to use in cleaning their homes. For assembly and shipping instructions, call UMCOR Sager Brown at (800) 814-8765 or go to online. Financial donations can be made to “UMCOR’s Material Resource Ministry,” Advance No. 901440, to buy cleaning supplies that the Sager Brown Depot staff and volunteers will use to assemble flood buckets.

• Volunteering to help in Hurricane Katrina recovery. Write to Mission Volunteers at for contact information for United Methodist Volunteers in Mission jurisdictional and conference coordinators. They can provide details on creating and training a team as well as scheduling. For information on disaster sites that are scheduling volunteers, call the Volunteer Hotline, (800) 918-3100.

*Scott is communications specialist for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, a unit of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or


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