Hurricane Florence: Learn how you can help

View of Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station. Source: ESA, NASA

September 13, 2018

In the face of what could be an epic storm in the Carolinas, even though Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to CAT 2 as of Sept. 13, 2018, churches may be thinking ahead to what they can do to help right away. 

It is important to stress that since the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR,) goes in only at the invitation of the affected conferences after being cleared for early response, which means that first responders have determined the rescue/emergency phase is complete or it’s safe for our volunteers to help.

Be one of the “3Ps” of disaster response: a
  1. “player” serving on a team;
  2. “prayer” supporting our volunteer teams and the communities they will serve;
  3. “payer” providing financial assistance to a local volunteer, team or UMCOR Disaster Response, U.S. Advance #901670.
Don’t collect clothing or other items that have not be requested. Dealing with unwanted/unusable items can easily become a disaster-after-the-disaster. Learn more about how to help by reading Top four worst, and best, ways to help after a disaster

Build a cleaning bucket, school kit or hygiene kit. See the list of New England Conference drop-off sites
Cleaning buckets assembled at United Methodist Publishing House were sent to Texas following Hurricane Harvey. Photo by Malcom Thompson.

 
Be prepared: Schedule an early response team (ERT), UMVIM (long-term recovery/rebuild), or Connecting Neighbors (individual, church & community preparedness) training event in your church, cluster, or community.

Monitor the disaster response page on the Conference website for latest news, upcoming trainings and calls for volunteers.

Many may have heard that the head of Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) often mentions Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs) which includes members such as UMCOR and its many church volunteers.  FEMA has started emphasizing that they can’t respond alone during disasters. 

Their 2017 Hurricane Season FEMA After-Action Report released in July says: “FEMA has adapted and improved its capabilities since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and supported efforts to increase preparedness across the whole community — including state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments, non-governmental organizations (such as UMCOR), and the private sector. The work of emergency management does not belong just to FEMA. It is the responsibility of the whole community, federal, SLTT, private sector partners, and private citizens to build collective capacity and prepare for the disasters that we will inevitably face.”

That is a call to action that Methodists have been heeding for decades. 

If you have questions about helping or volunteering, contact Conference Disaster Response & Mission Coordinator, Barbara Burnside, baburnside@neumc.org or 978-682-8055, ext. 135.