Floods Affect Thousands in Indiana
By Melissa Hinnen
NEW YORK, June 12, 2008— As powerful storms continue to sweep through areas across the middle of the US, and flood waters rise, residents in Indiana are anticipating a clean-up of historic magnitude. According to Reuters, 21 counties in Indiana have been declared disaster areas.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is working with the North and South Indiana Conferences to assess and respond to the wide spread damage. Bob Babcock of the South Indiana Conference reports that the areas most affected are Terre Haute, Martinsville, Columbus and Shelbyville. Hundreds of people have lost their homes. Many people, including Bishop Michael Coyner, were unable to return home on Saturday following annual conference because the rain made many roads impassable. A number of churches did not have Sunday services because there was high water around them.
While UMCOR early response teams are assessing the situation, the conference office has been receiving calls from congregations wanting to help. “While we have begun some initial muck out, most areas are still not safe for volunteers,” says Tom Hazelwood, executive for UMCOR’s domestic disaster response, “once the assessment has been completed and the danger is minimized, we will proceed efficiently to maximize the time and expertise of the volunteers.”
Three shipments of flood buckets have already been sent to help people begin the clean up of their homes, and another shipment is on its way. UMCOR has sent an initial $10,000 grant and is in contact with Bishop Coyner to offer additional financial and personnel support in response to this disaster. UMCOR staff member Sandra Kennedy-Owes will remain in contact with the conferences to offer support and assistance as they move through the emergency phase and begin the long term response.
Request for “Second Flood” of Compassion and Giving
Bishop Coyner sent out a conference-wide email asking for, “United Methodists and other people of good will in Indiana to join together in prayer, in financial gifts, in work teams, and in support for those who have been impacted by the floods. Let us help them with a ‘Second Flood’ of compassion, and let us help them to know that the flood will not overwhelm them because the Lord and the Lord’s people are standing with them.”
Those interested in volunteering can contact their jurisdictional Volunteer in Mission coordinator for more information. Interested persons who live within the Indiana Conferences should contact their conference office directly.
* Melissa Hinnen is the staff writer for UMCOR communications