UMCOR Opens Gulf Coast Office
Mobile, Ala, December 19, 2008— The United Methodist Committee on Relief’s new Gulf Coast Office in Mobile, Ala., opened its doors Dec. 16. This new UMCOR site will serve as a satellite location for UMCOR’s Emergency Services Office.
The new Gulf Coast Office will give UMCOR a permanent presence in this very disaster-prone area," says the Rev. Sam Dixon, UMCOR's deputy general secretary. "Its strategic location will help UMCOR mobilize and reach out to people in crisis quickly, and help us maintain a stronger presence in the area throughout recovery."
Sandra Kennedy-Owes, executive secretary, US Disaster Response, will staff the Gulf Coast Office. An opening celebration on Dec. 16 was well attended by members of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference as well as local service agencies.
While UMCOR has frequently responded to disasters in the Gulf Coast region since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, UMCOR has been working in the area continually since the 2004 Hurricane season. "In addition to providing an ongoing presence in the region," says the Rev. Tom Hazelwood, head of UMCOR's domestic disaster response efforts, "the Gulf Coast Office will also provide a home base for our traveling staff during times of disaster."
The office is centrally located in Mobile, with ample meeting and office space.
Additional Offices Increase Response and Security
In addition to the office in Mobile, UMCOR is planning additional offices in the Western Jurisdiction of the US and in the Philippines.
The Western Jurisdiction office will be in Salt Lake City, Utah. It will serve as a satellite to UMCOR Sager Brown, UMCOR's relief supply depot.
An office in the Philippines is being planned for the Manila area. This office will serve as a communications hub for United Methodists in the Philippines as well as a place to provide volunteer and local church training. In times of disaster in the region, the office will be used as a staging area for response.
"Not only do these offices increase UMCOR's presence in and near to disaster-prone areas," said Rev. Dixon, "they furnish alternate locations for ministry in the event of a catastrophic disaster on the east coast which might affect our New York and Washington D.C. locations."
UMCOR is the not-for-profit global humanitarian aid organization of the United Methodist Church. UMCOR is working in more than 80 countries worldwide, including the United States. Our mission, grounded in the teachings of Jesus, is to alleviate human suffering-whether caused by war, conflict or natural disaster, with open hearts and minds to all people.
UMCOR responds to natural or civil disasters that are interruptions of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community's ability to recover on its own.