Disaster Response: Latest News

Updated April 10, 2017

Disaster Response News Update

Southeastern U.S.

Our prayers are with the survivors of the tornadoes Jan. 21-22, 2017 in the Southeastern U.S. as well as with the families of those who died; the death toll was 18 as of Jan. 24. We can all support the communities as they rebuild. Amy Fuselier, head of UMCOR's Disaster Relief Supply Network says that health kits and bedding kits are most needed right now. Please organize your congregation to respond. Go to www.umcor.org/reliefsupplies for details.


Accepting teams moved from “Wait” to “Go” – Hurricane Matthew (late September through Oct. 9, 2016) left a path of destruction through Haiti, a country still struggling to rebuild after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010, and up the coast of the Southeastern United States, killing over 800 people. According to Barbara Burnside, Disaster ERT and Mission Coordinator for the New England Conference, instruction to teams has moved from "Wait" to "Go!" Teams are encouraged to plan arrival dates starting in January 2017, and they must have a Team Leader with experience in Haiti; it is highly recommended that at least 50 percent of each team have Haiti experience as well. This is based on assessments EgliseMéthodiste d’Haiti (EMH) has been doing with help from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

South Carolina

In the South Carolina Conference, where flooding just a year ago and slowly receding river crests have created uncertainty about what might be left behind, disaster response officials issued a request for Early Response Teams (ERTs) from all jurisdictions to help with relief stage efforts. They require that ERT leaders be ERT trained and badged.  That conference will coordinate housing and food, but self-sufficient teams are also needed in the hardest hit areas.  Matt Brodie is also the South Carolina DRC and team leaders should call (800) 390-4911. 

North Carolina

Join mission trip to Tarboro, NC

A team is being organized for a May 8-13, 2017 mission trip to clean up and make repairs in Tarboro, NC, which was hit by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. The group typically travels together with those in each vehicle splitting those costs. An additional $200 covers: food, housing, and insurance. Those who choose to fly, must pay for their own airfare. Registration and payment deadline is April 15. For more information, contact Pastor Roy Richardson at revrichardson@juno.com or cell phone (401) 378-8776 or office phone (860) 684-2468 A team meeting will be planned, and as you register you will be notified. Get the registration form.

ERTs also are needed in the North Carolina Conference.  Mold is quickly growing in water-drenched dwellings. To volunteer at any of the sites listed below (ERT or non-ERT opportunities), please call the NC Conference Disaster Call Center (888) 440-9167 to sign up, make plans for accommodations, if needed, and to access the latest contact information. 

NC work sites needing ERT volunteers: 

  • Robeson County
  • Dare County (Frisco, Hatteras, Buxton)
  • Bertie County
  • Harbor District (day teams only)
  • Heritage District (day teams only)

Long-term efforts

Remember that long-term recovery are still being scheduled for Louisiana, Greater New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia. The Western Pennsylvania and Susquehanna conferences are also working on localized efforts and need help.  

Disaster Relief Opportunities

Hurricane Sandy recovery work in New Jersey

The Williston Federated Church of Vermont is organizing a UMVIM trip Sunday to Saturday, April 23-29, 2017, to New Jersey where some 3,000 families are still in need of repairs to homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The group will travel by carpool. The estimated cost is $350 per person for the week. Group size is 15.

As is usual with disaster recovery trips, we probably won't know exactly what the work is until a week or two before we go, but it will be doing whatever needs to be done to get people back in their homes. Anyone interested should contact Charlie Magill at cmagillvt@aol.com or (802) 879-6238.

What you can do to help

UMCOR makes sure that conferences account for exactly how the money is spent and that everyone who receives help has been vetted by a case manager, ensuring that only those who truly have unmet needs receive the limited and precious resources.  UMCOR also monitors how much can be spent on staff to manage the relief and recovery efforts. 

Upcoming Trainings

The latest training available can be found on the Upcoming Training Opportunities page of this website.

The New England Conference is blessed to have many trained ERTs, but we have a significant number who need recertification.  In preparation for an invitation from the new disaster areas, we invite you to contact Barbara Burnside to schedule a recertification training and our conference will:

  • Receive inquiries from ERT- trained persons willing to lead teams if requested. Interested and qualified persons may contact Barbara Burnside at baburnside@neumc.org
  • Set up several training events for ERT certification or re-certification.

May God bless you to be a blessing in this time of need and every day!