Fetzer requests donations for storm response in Chattanooga, Cleveland districts

Fetzer requests donations for storm response in Chattanooga, Cleveland districts

Annette Smith, member at Ooltewah UMC, helps clean up storm damage in the Harrison Bay area. Photo courtesy of Don Thomas

Holston leaders are requesting financial assistance in the wake of storms that sent the conference's Early Response Team to the Cleveland and Chattanooga districts.  

President Barack Obama has declared 10 Tennessee counties disaster areas in the wake of storms and flooding between Feb. 29 and March 2. Five of those counties are in Holston: Hamilton, Bradley, McMinn, Monroe, and Polk.

Jim Fetzer, Holston diaster response coordinator, said that Hamilton County was hardest hit, with 347 homes affected, including 77 homes destroyed and 23 homes receiving major damage. Fetzer and Holston's Early Response Team (ERT) are coordinating their work with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

"We are asked to provide support for needed items, pallets of water, tarps, and plastic storage containers, in addition to the Early Response Teams who are volunteers at the disaster sites working to assist the survivors," Fetzer said.

Holston Conference received a $10,000 emergency grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), but additional funds are needed, Fetzer said. 

Holston is also in need of responsive, trained ERT workers,  although some have been working in the Chattanooga and Cleveland areas since March 7. Ooltewah UMC is housing the workers.

"After sending several email requests, we are at a loss for the very low to no response by all the people who are ERT trained in the conference," Fetzer said. "We have requested and are receiving outside-the-conference support for ERT work."

Forty-seven workers received ERT re-certification training at Christ UMC in Chattanooga on March 17, Fetzer said.

Donations of clothing are not needed, he emphasized. "The system does not support those donations which require warehousing and management, which is an added cost to the disaster operations."
Fetzer asked for prayers for storm survivors and ERT workers.

To give the response effort, write a check to your local church with "Advance # 143" on the memo line.

Members are also encouraged to give to UMCOR, which celebrated One Great Hour of Sharing on March 18.    

For information about ERT training, contact Mark Hicks at (865) 809-9044.