UMCOR Responds to Gustav, Fay and Prepares for Next Round of Storms
NEW YORK, September 4, 2008—The United Methodist Committee on Relief's Domestic Disaster Response program continues to respond to the rash of tropical storms and hurricanes that have developed in the Atlantic over the last week.
The five tropical storms and hurricanes that have sprung up in the Atlantic are a perfectly ordered list. And all of them are aimed at the United States. Fay and Gustav have taken their turn, with Hanna, Ike and Josephine lined up to come ashore in the days ahead.
"We're preparing and responding all at once," said Tom Hazelwood, UMCOR's domestic disaster response executive. "Our network of domestic disaster response coordinators in each annual conference as well as our team of consultants and staff allows us to respond to multiple storms at once."
Tropical Storm Hanna
UMCOR is in contact with the Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina annual conferences that are preparing for Tropical Storm Hanna's landfall later this week. "The conferences are prepared and we are watching Hanna's track very closely," said Hazelwood.
While Hurricane Gustav did miss New Orleans, some communities in Louisiana did sustain serious damage. The Louisiana Annual Conference, with support from UMCOR, is working to address immediate needs by supplying ice and water to residents left without electricity in the wake of the storm.
The full extent of the damage is yet to be determined as assessments get underway.
The UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La., will reopen September 5, after being closed for a week due to Hurricane Gustav. Scheduled volunteer groups will return on Sunday as the Depot returns to normal operations.
Tropical Storm Fay
Fay, with its four turns in Florida has left portions of the state still soggy more than a week later. Floodwaters in Florida's panhandle have not receded and rivers in certain areas are still cresting. Floridians now look wearily at the weather map which shows Hanna and Ike bringing more rain and possibly worse to their already-battered state.
Most of the homes damaged by Fay were not covered by flood insurance, leaving homeowners struggling for a way to recover their losses. UMCOR is assisting the Florida Annual Conference in training case managers who will help with those left vulnerable by Fay on the path to recovery.
Haiti has borne the brunt of both Gustav and Hanna and is bracing for Hurricane Ike. Both storms have proved to be deadly, killing more than 100 people. UMCOR Haiti personnel are safe and are assessing local needs. UMCOR plans to respond both through its office in Cap Haitian and through partner, Action by Churches Together. Both organizations are conducting assessments and will begin their response soon.
How You Can Help
Flood buckets are urgently needed at UMCOR Sager Brown. Interested individuals and churches can either assemble and ship flood buckets or donate funds toward the purchase of supplies. Learn more on UMCOR's flood bucket webpage.
Those wishing to volunteers should contact their jurisdictional volunteer in mission coordinator. While volunteers will be needed, it will be some time before the area is declared safe for ordinary volunteers to enter.