UMCOR Responding to Needs in Aftermath of Hurricane Ike
September 15, 2008—Following the weekend landfall of Hurricane Ike in Galveston, Tex., assessments are beginning to uncover the extent of the damage in Galveston and along the Gulf Coast. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is in contact with the affected conferences. UMCOR's domestic disaster response staff has been deployed to assist in the recovery.
United Methodist Volunteers in Mission and UMCOR are coordinating efforts and specially-trained early response teams will begin recovery efforts as areas are assessed and declared safe and secure.
UMCOR is also working with local churches to assess long-term rebuilding needs. In addition to thousands of damaged homes, many churches need major repairs or complete restoration following the storm.
"The impact of Ike and other hurricanes on life and property extends from Haiti to Houston," says Bishop Janice Huie of the Texas Annual Conference. "We are so appreciative of UMCOR's ability to quickly respond to the needs of so many."
The Texas Annual Conference office reports it will be closed until Wednesday. Wesley House, a national mission institution in Houston sustained minimal damage but is still without power. Local churches in the area are preparing to set-up shelters for those whose homes are damaged or destroyed.
In the meantime, many people have sought shelter in United Methodist churches further north. Christ United Methodist Church in College Station, Tex., is housing evacuees from the Edgewater Retirement Home in Galveston. They are serving 180 residents, staff and families who arrived on Thursday and will stay at least another week according to Kay Villasana, the church's assistant. The church is using a building they bought that is a former hospital and offers evacuees private rooms, a dining hall and a commercial kitchen.
The hurricane recovery effort in Texas is the largest in the state's history. Sam Dixon, UMCOR's top executive, reports, "While we do not know the full extent of the people's needs in Texas, UMCOR, will work quickly to understand and respond and begin the process to help people rebuild their lives."
Louisiana Feels Effects of Ike
The Louisiana Annual Conference was in the process of assessing damages from Hurricane Gustav which hit earlier this month when Ike swept through the Gulf Coast, adding to the destruction with extensive wind and water related damage.
UMCOR Sager Brown in Baldwin, La., reports that while there were high winds and tornadoes, the depot sustained minimal damage. There is massive flooding in Baldwin and surrounding areas. Sager Brown is open and in need of assembled flood buckets and cleaning supplies and asked that people call before making a delivery so that supplies can be shipped to the appropriate distribution area.
How You Can Help
In addition to sending flood buckets, please help UMCOR respond to people affected by Hurricane Ike with a gift to UMCOR Advance #3019695, Hurricanes 2008, Hurricane Ike. Your gift helps us provide immediate on-the-ground support to volunteers, annual conferences and interfaith response efforts.
Contact your jurisdictional volunteer in mission coordinator for information about volunteering in the affected area.