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Three conferences withdraw Katrina funding request

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Photo courtesy of FEMA/Liz Roll

Wires pose a safety hazard in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Feb. 15, 2006

NEW YORK (UMNS) — A United Methodist regional group that had successfully applied for federal funding for long-term recovery activity after Hurricane Katrina has withdrawn its request.

Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi annual conferences, regional units of the United Methodist Church, had jointly applied for partnership in Katrina Aid Today, a national consortium led by the United Methodist Committee on Relief. About $3 million originally awarded to the three will be redistributed among the remaining nine consortium members.

Katrina Aid Today is working to help families in 30 states identify and find solutions to their major post-hurricane problems. It is monitored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency using donations from the international community. The program is funded with a $66 million grant for use over a two-year period.

UMCOR, a unit of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, was named manager of the consortium in October.

The decision by the three annual conferences to withdraw from the consortium was guided by two factors, according to the Rev. Kristin L. Sachen, head of UMCOR’s emergency services office. As grant contracts were being developed, it became apparent that sufficient funding would be available from private United Methodist sources to support all the work proposed by the three annual conferences. Also, private funding allows more flexibility in the design and implementation of a project.

“Disaster response is just one facet of a comprehensive ministry in a conference,” Sachen said in a news release. “It must fit in with all the other conference ministries.”

When UMCOR is the source of grant funding, it can work collaboratively with its conference partners in developing a program of services that fits that conference’s capacity and priorities. Federal funding requirements are more rigid, UMCOR said.

When the application process began last October, United Methodist private donations amounted to about $20 million.

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Warren Harrity
“We knew our conferences would be able to provide a more robust response, so we encouraged them to apply for the federal grant,” Sachen said.

UMCOR also announced that Warren Harrity has been named executive director of Katrina Aid Today. Harrity, formerly interim director, has worked for UMCOR since 2003, when he opened operations for the agency in Kabul, Afghanistan. He became acquainted with UMCOR while serving as a refugee coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, a U.S. State Department agency.

Educated at DePaul University in Chicago and the University of Denver, Harrity has a master’s degree in international relations.

He has worked with displaced people in Armenia, Afghanistan, and Bosnia — all countries where disaster forced the migration of large numbers of people.

“People who have been displaced share a lot in common,” he said. “They’ve all suffered loss and immeasurable changes. They’re all seeking durable solutions so they can have a stable family life, take care of their children and aging parents.”

Contributions to relief work in the Gulf Coast region and Nicaragua can be written to UMCOR, with UMCOR Advance #982523 noted in the memo line. Checks can be placed in church offering plates or mailed to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. One hundred percent of every donation to any appeal goes to support the ministry a donor designates.

More information on Katrina Aid Today is available at

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

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