After being battered by Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gustav, United Methodists along the Gulf Coast are beginning to assess the damage and coordinate relief efforts.
In the days prior to Gustav’s landfall just west of New Orleans on September 1, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) secured its Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, Louisiana, and made sure evacuating staff members had proper credentials to return immediately after the storm had passed.
Flood buckets and other supplies are being distributed from Sager Brown to aid relief efforts across Louisiana and other affected annual conferences.
“We are receiving reports of catastrophic flooding and debris in parts of the state,” said Marilyn Swanson, director of Disaster Recovery Ministry for the Florida Annual Conference, affected by Tropical Storm Fay in late August. Four UM churches reported minor damage, including one that was looted during the storm.
Bishop Timothy Whitaker is asking UMCOR for a $10,000 emergency grant to help with initial needs. The conference is poised to provide flood buckets filled with cleanup supplies to homeowners. It has 1,400 buckets stored in a warehouse in Madison, located about one hour from Tallahassee.
Churches can support hurricane relief efforts by assembling and shipping flood buckets to Sager Brown and the Florida Annual Conference. UMs are also asked to re-stock their local food pantry or food bank. Work teams are expected to be needed after the water recedes.
Volunteers should contact their Jurisdictional Volunteer in Mission Coordinator for information about when and where their help will be needed. To donate to UMCOR, drop checks in church offering plates or mail them directly to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Write Advance #3019695, Hurricanes 2008 on the memo line. Credit card donations can be made by calling 800-554-8583 or by going to www.givetomission.org.
– Erik Alsgaard, Florida Annual Conference (UMNS) and UMCOR