UMC Takes Leading Role in Hurricane Recovery

September 04, 2007

UMs have helped more than 60,000 people rebuild 25,000 homes in the Gulf Coast in the two years since Hurricane Katrina. A new report issued by the UM Committee on Relief (UMCOR) shows the church has taken a leading role in repairing and restoring broken homes and assisting those who lost everything in the storms.


Meanwhile, a recent USA Today article reported that UMCOR’s home improvement efforts outpaced other religious charities working in the region, showing that 56,656 UM volunteers have provided services on 15,643 of the total 53,226 homes improved. According to the article, “Faith Rebuilds House and Soul,” UMs represented the third largest contingent of volunteer workers in the region, only to follow the Southern Baptist Convention and Habitat for Humanity. (Link to story at


The California-Nevada Conference sent 13 United Methodist Volunteers in Mission teams to the region in 2005, 37 in 2006, and 20 so far this year … with another 30 teams scheduled to serve there before the end of 2007. Last year saw a total of 512 volunteers serving in the region and more than 43 percent of that number has been in mission there already this year.


“We’re at the two-year mark in our five-year plan of long-term recovery work,” said the Rev. Sam W. Dixon, UMCOR interim executive. The more than $66 million in total giving to UMCOR’s “Hurricanes of 2005” appeal was the highest ever given to an UMCOR Advance. Sixty-three percent of the disbursed funds have gone to the five annual (regional) conferences where multiple storms struck: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama-West Florida, and Florida. With UMCOR assistance, all five conferences have organizations in place to identify and work with survivors, recruit and host volunteer teams, and manage rebuilding efforts. Cash disbursements have been used for initial relief, case management, and rebuilding. The result is about 25,000 total and partial rebuilds.


As of mid-August, more than 164,000 individuals had received services from Katrina Aid Today, the national case management consortium sponsored by FEMA and managed by UMCOR. The consortium received a $66 million grant through FEMA and international donations received after the hurricane. “One of the strengths of the consortium is the outreach and service delivery we have done through existing agencies who can continue to help after specific grants are completed,” said Jim Cox, executive director, Katrina Aid Today. For more information, go to <>

— Linda Beher, communications director for UMCOR, provided information for this report (UMNS)