Conference Disaster Recovery Update (As of October 2) by Phil Bandy

October 08, 2014

Weed:
 
Visit today in Weed shows ongoing progress in the recovery efforts after the fire.  The local UMC pastors (Tina, Toni, Joe) met with Norm Hardin and Phil Bandy to provide an update and to discuss options for participation and support.  Preliminary metrics from people seeking help from the Salvation Army indicate about half the homes were rentals.  We learned there was an encampment of people in a wooded area that also lost everything but are not being counted or included in any of the relief efforts.  Tina reports that the ministry team in nearby Yreka that serves the homeless community identified at least four new people there who evacuated themselves from this encampment in Weed.   We know that many of the documented residents have relocated to this and other nearby towns showing us the recovery service area covers the whole region.  The donations distribution center in down town Weed is well stocked and is accepting only items they are running low on.  One current need is for 6 working cars for those people whose only car was burned and not insured for this loss. 
 
The cleanup of heavy items from the remains is apparently started as of Tuesday for those owners who request it.  We do not know how the people who have left the area make this request for cleanup and since we were not permitted to visit the burn area, we also do not know what progress has been made.  The cleanup started 12 days after the fire giving us now a basis to project the relief and recovery efforts will take 4 years. 
 
The long term recovery group has formed and next week will finalize their steering committee.  Tina Hayes may be designated the Secretary for the steering committee.  The group has designated subcommittees for funding, construction, case management, and unmet needs.   
 
Vallejo:
 
Tuesday the long term recovery group organized and named themselves Vallejo Earthquake Recovery Group (VERG).  They will serve the greater Vallejo area of Solano County and have subcommittees for fundraising, fund distribution, construction, case management, unmet needs and volunteer management.   Phil Bandy, who lives in Vallejo, will serve as a member of the steering committee.  The names of the rest of the group membership are forthcoming next week.   The needs of people in the community as a result of earthquake damages is understood from a limited number of perspectives so there is a growing concern the unmet needs is larger than hoped.  A priority focus of the VERG is a needs assessment and getting case management going.  We are expecting a formal request to provide training and leadership for case management.
 
A number of older buildings in the downtown area in Vallejo are being taken down.  Repairs are progressing on First UMC Vallejo.  Homes scattered over the old downtown area are in various states of repair.  In a short drive through this area Wednesday morning there was a two story house sitting on jacks waiting to be lowered back down to a new foundation, a house with a gaping hole in the roof where the chimney used to be, another house with repairs progressing on the chimney, a house with a new wall, but still dozens of houses with unrepaired broken windows and yellow tags.
 
Volunteer Training for Disasters:
 
We have four opportunities soon for volunteers to get training that will help us in the disaster recovery process. (Click here for information
 
The Early Response Team training is specifically designed to equip volunteers to provide disaster survivors immediate assistance. Training covers how to safely clean up and stabilize damaged homes, how to organize and coordinate with the various agencies engaged after a disaster, and most importantly, how to be a loving presence with those suffering from a disaster. 
 
The Children’s Disaster Services, trains and certifies volunteers for specialized child care after disasters. Children’s Disaster Services, a ministry of the Church of the Brethren, work cooperatively with the American Red Cross, providing a safe environment and a comforting presence for children impacted by traumatic events. 
 
The United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) Team Leader training equips team leaders with skills to help organize, plan, and lead a group of volunteers to respond to our calling to do good in ways that are transformative.  There is exciting new curriculum for this class that help leaders create a team and community experience in powerful new ways.  We all know these short term mission experiences are powerful but this equips us to be more deliberate in the experience.  All those who have previously had the team leader training or otherwise been in a team leadership role, need to make plans to attend one of these classes in the coming year.  Clergy will receive continuing education credit for this and other of these training events.