United Methodists respond to hurricane damage
9/22/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
A UMNS Report
By Joretta Purdue and Tim Tanton*
The damage caused by Hurricane Isabel is keeping workers
busy from sunrise to sundown at a United Methodist emergency response
center in Goldsboro, N.C.
"We've been here all day every day
since Friday (Sept. 19)," said Nelson Davenport, materials resource
director with the Marion Edwards Recovery Center Initiatives (MERCI),
named for the North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference's bishop.
three days of the Sept. 18 hurricane, the center had given away half of
the 2,000 buckets of flood-relief supplies that it had received from
the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Davenport said Sept. 22.
"We're going through them fast."
The buckets contain cleaning
solutions, disinfectants, rubber gloves, scrubbing pads, sponges,
clotheslines and clothespins and other supplies for use in cleaning up
water-damaged homes and businesses.
"We are sending out flood
buckets and health kits," Davenport said. "We are trying to round up and
loan out generators. We're shipping out tarps or house wraps to cover
As people along the U.S. East Coast recovered from
the Sept. 18 hurricane, United Methodist churches and conferences
pitched in to help. The hurricane is blamed for at least 35 deaths, with
Virginia alone suffering 19 fatalities. About 1.4 million people along
the eastern seaboard were still without power as the workweek began,
according to news reports.
United Methodists in several states
were assessing the damages, and UMCOR stood by to assist conferences
needing help. In North Carolina, church relief workers, district
superintendents, the bishop and others planned to meet Sept. 22.
Virginia, the situation varied from one region to another, but much of
the state was contending with trees that took down power lines.
Bridgeforth was driving a disaster response trailer to Saluda near the
Rappahannock River Sept. 22. The trailers include generators, tools,
space heaters, fans, sawhorses, saws and other equipment.
trailer was taken to Elton, Va., the day after the hurricane, he said.
Four such trailers are positioned around the state for emergencies, he
said, and a much larger one with more equipment is stored in Richmond.
churches have fared very well," said the Rev. Joe Savinsky, Norfolk
District superintendent. However, he added that he was unable to reach a
couple of pastors by midday Sept. 22.
A tree hit the parsonage
of St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Virginia Beach, Savinsky said.
Most of the damage to other church property was minor: a few shingles
blown off or windows broken, he said.
"We're grateful it was only
category 2 gusting winds," Savinsky said. "If it had been category 3 or
4, the area really would have been devastated."
the state in Waynesboro, the Rev. Gary Milstead of the Main Street
United Methodist Church said area churches sustained minor wind and
water damage, and fallen trees were commonplace.
Maryland's Chesapeake Bay area were among the hardest hit. Between 15
and 20 United Methodist churches are in the bay areas of Fishing
Creek-Hoopers Island and Rock Hall, which were affected by flooding,
according to Tammy Ward, communicator for the Peninsula-Delaware Annual
Flooding also struck Peninsula-Delaware's Camp Pecometh near Centreville, Md., Ward said.
superintendents are handling assessments in their areas, and then the
conference disaster relief coordinator will oversee the response in
those districts, she said. Two of the conference's four districts may
Despite the impact, Ward had no injuries to report from local congregations. "Blessedly, we haven't heard anything."
the Baltimore-Washington Conference, Bishop Felton Edwin May contacted
UMCOR the day after the hurricane struck, asking the agency for help.
Sandy Ferguson, the conference's associate council director, coordinated
While flooding devastated areas of Annapolis,
Baltimore and coastal areas on Chesapeake Bay, United Methodist church
buildings in the Baltimore-Washington Conference were largely unharmed,
she said in a report in the conference's e-connection newsletter. The
parsonage at Turner Station United Methodist Church, in Dundalk,
sustained flooding in the basement, and roof damage was reported at
Brooklyn United Methodist Church.
Ferguson cautioned local
churches about setting up as emergency relief shelters. They may,
however, work with the Red Cross or other relief organizations to have
their doors open, to offer a safe sanctuary, pastoral counseling and
refreshments, or to serve as a base for volunteers to organize, she said
People interested in helping with the recovery
can call UMCOR's volunteer line, (800) 918-3100. Check donations can be
made out to UMCOR, designated for "Hurricanes 2003," Advance No. 982438,
and placed in church offering plates or sent to UMCOR, 475 Riverside
Drive, Room 330, New York, N.Y. 10115. Credit-card donors can call (800)
554-8583 or make an online donation at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/.
# # #
*Tanton and Purdue are United Methodist News Service writers.
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