Dear AWFC Disaster Responders:
The news cameras have left and the national focus is no longer on the multiple disasters our country experienced in the last few months. Yet the long work of recovery will take months and years to complete. If you haven’t already started making plans to send work teams to Texas, Florida, Louisiana, or Georgia, now is a good time to start. If you cannot travel yourself, please keep these affected areas and people in your prayers.
Below are some updates about the disasters and how you can help beyond your prayers.
Work teams are welcome and needed in Florida. Numerous UM churches in the Florida Conference can provide housing. Teams should use the website http://www.flumc.org/disasterrecoveryministry to register.
The South Georgia Conference is also looking for teams. Contact Luis Morales, South Georgia Conference Disaster Coordinator, at email@example.com.
Irma situation updates:
- The most impacted areas include Naples, Marco Island, Tampa Bay, and the Daytona Area.
- 200 Florida UM churches were damaged and many will not be able to pay their insurance deductibles
- The migrant communities are hard hit. It is likely that there will be no harvests until after Thanksgiving. Hence, many will go without work (and thus without an income) from the beginning of September to the end of November.
- Housing will continue to be a significant issue for residents of Florida for some time. 2.6 million households (and counting) have registered for FEMA assistance.
Hurricane Maria did the most damage to Puerto Rico, which had already been affected by Hurricane Irma. 250,000 homes were hit and 100,000 were destroyed. The situation there is continually difficult and it will likely be at least December before conditions are anywhere close to normal on the island, which means access to water, electricity and other basic infrastructure. Most houses are damaged, many now without roofs. Food is coming slowly and clean water is scarce. The economy on the island will take a long time to recover, and the damage to the tourist and other economies will have far-reaching impacts.
Approximately 100 UM churches were damaged, 25 of those severely. They have established distribution sites at 5 locations where they are providing donations from the UMC, including 7,000 flood kits, 27,000 hygiene kits, 30,000 solar powered lights, and an entire container of water. The efforts of The UMC in Puerto Rico have been tremendous.
The UMC in Puerto Rico is not requesting teams at this time, but we will keep you informed when they are ready.
The Texas and Rio Texas Conferences are in great need of work teams. The work will continue for years. Visit http://www.txcumc.org/texasrecovers to volunteer with the Texas conference and https://riotexas.org/harvey to volunteer with the Rio Texas conference.
The Louisiana Conference is looking for volunteers as well. Visit http://www.louisianadisasterresponse.com.
Work teams from outside the jurisdiction are not requested at this time. Work will be ongoing and the UMC is involved. Thank you for your continued prayers for their recovery.