ALCOA, Tenn. (Oct. 11, 2018) -- United Methodists in Holston Conference are urged to continue assembling “cleaning kits” and “hygiene kits” to help survivors of this week's Hurricane Michael in Florida -- as well as residents recovering from last month's Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas.
In addition, mission leaders are making plans to send a work team to North Carolina later this month. Plans for another team to depart for the Carolinas this week or next were suspended as Hurricane Michael developed strength and headed for the U.S. southeastern coastline, said Jim Fetzer, Holston disaster response coordinator.
“Coastal river basins are flooding as a result of twice daily high tides,” Fetzer said.
On Tuesday, the Rev. Michael Sluder sent an email to district offices in advance of Hurricane Michael:
“Please keep the communities in its path in your prayers,” said Sluder, Holston director of connectional ministries. “Also please put the word out to your churches to continue making those UMCOR cleaning buckets and hygiene kits.”
UMCOR stands for United Methodist Committee on Relief.
Contact your district office to learn where kits are being collected in your area, or contact Sluder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-690-4080 for more information.
On Oct. 9, a team from Cokesbury United Methodist Church delivered 172 cleaning kits to the UMCOR Disaster Relief Depot in Decatur, Alabama.
Ashley Cross, Cokesbury communications director, said the Knoxville church began collecting cleaning kits and hygiene kits in September after seeing the predictions of Hurricane Florence’s enormity.
“We collected buckets from Cokesbury folks and also served as a delivery site for buckets and hygiene kits for other churches in our area,” Cross said. “Our financial offerings for UMCOR so far have totaled more than $6,400.”
On the day before the relief kits were dispatched to UMCOR in Alabama, about 20 Boy Scouts worked at Cokesbury to check the kits and load them on to a trailer, she added.
TRAINED HELPERS NEEDED
Holston mission leaders have called for volunteers with Early Response Team (ERT) training to help hurricane-ravaged towns in the Carolinas but few volunteers have responded, Sluder said. Disaster-response officials in the Carolinas are adjusting to the shortage by permitting mission-team members without training, as long as they are led by ERT-trained leaders.
On Oct. 21-22, a Holston Conference team will depart for Wilmington, N.C., to assist the International Orthodox Christian Charities with their response efforts. The team's leader is Bill Campbell, member at First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport.
“Muck-out will be the focus of the team,” Fetzer said. Road closures or new flooding caused by Hurricane Michael could necessitate schedule changes, although currently the team is scheduled to serve through Oct. 27.
Fetzer is also assembling ERT workers to help residents of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, where 70 homes were damaged by flooding on Sept. 26.
The next ERT training session in Holston is scheduled for Nov. 3 at State Street United Methodist Church in Bristol, Virginia. (Find out more.)
Holston Conference leaders urge church members to make financial donations to UMCOR, which responds to disasters in the United States and around the world.
“UMCOR partners are ready to assist response efforts on the Gulf Coast,” the agency announced on its website today. “Disaster response coordinators are traveling to affected areas today to begin assessment work. We remind those wishing to provide assistance to please not self-deploy or donated unsolicited items.”
Church members may give to UMCOR by writing checks to their local churches with “U.S. Disaster Response #901670” on the memo line. It is also possible to give directly online.
“Thank you for continuing to share this need with your churches,” Sluder said.
Questions about this report: Annette Spence at email@example.com
Questions about disaster response: Rev. Mike Sluder at firstname.lastname@example.org
United Methodists gear up for Michael relief (UMNS, 10.11.18)
Joy follows Holston deliveries to hurricane region (The Call, 9.26.18)
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.