ALCOA, Tenn. (Sept. 12, 2018) -- United Methodist churches in the Holston Conference are already collecting hygiene and cleaning supplies for coastal neighbors as they brace for Hurricane Florence.
In addition, some churches are preparing to open their doors for evacuees from North Carolina and South Carolina, which is expected to be pummeled by a deadly storm surge Thursday through Saturday.
“While we do not know what damage, if any, will occur, we do want to be prepared to serve others in their time of need,” said the Rev. Tim Jones, Holston communications director.
This morning, Holston Conference leaders in the Alcoa Conference Center issued a request for “cleaning kits” and “hygiene kits,” with item lists and packing directions from the denomination’s international relief agency, UMCOR.
Churches should contact their district offices to learn where kits are being collected in their area or take them to Cokesbury United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., by Oct. 1. (Contact Cokesbury’s Linda Call-Lindsey at 865-693-0353 to make arrangements.)
Other groups from the community are also invited to prepare cleaning kits and hygiene kits, which Holston will help deliver to the hurricane-affected regions. (Contact Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-690-4145 to make arrangements for pick-up or delivery.)
At least three Holston churches have announced plans to open as a shelter for evacuees, including Shades of Grace in Kingsport, Tennessee; East Stone Gap in Big Stone Gap, Virginia; and Dublin in Dublin, Virginia.
Jim Fetzer, Holston disaster response coordinator, recommends that churches coordinate with the Red Cross before opening an evacuee shelter.
“[Red Cross] has a program that involves insurance, operations-trained personnel, contracting, and security,” Fetzer said.
Another way to help hurricane survivors is to make financial donations to UMCOR, Holston leaders said. Give online or make checks to “Holston Conference” with “Florence response” on the memo line and mail to: Holston Conference, P.O. Box 850, Alcoa, TN 37701.
Bulletin inserts are available for pastors wishing to share this information with their congregations.
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Questions about Holston disaster response: firstname.lastname@example.org