Disaster Response: Latest News

Updated Jan. 24, 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

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

Join January mission trip to Baton Rouge

The Louisiana Conference Volunteer Coordinator has called for volunteers to start the rebuilding process after the horrific flooding there earlier this year.

There is a mission trip planned for Jan.12-18, 2017 to Baton Rouge. A team of six or seven workers is needed including people with some construction experience, tradesmen, and handymen willing to serve Christ in this way.

Lodging is at one of the area’s host churches at a cost of $15 per night per person. This fee goes directly back to the host church to cover costs such as utilities, supplies, janitorial services, etc. Each host church has showers and sleeping space, usually in a fellowship hall or Sunday School classroom.  

Team members bring their own bedding, toiletries and towels. Most people prefer to bring an air mattress though cots may be available at some sites. In most cases lodging is located less than 30 minutes from the work site. Each team is responsible for its own meals.

The first payment of $350 is needed by Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, to secure airline tickets. If you are interested in this mission trip, please contact team leader Gerard Piscitelli at disasterneumc@gmail.com for more details.

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!