UMCOR Issues Appeal for Flood Survivors
June 8, 2010—As a “1,000-year flood” drenched the southeastern United States early last month, viewers were glued to their TVs and other media.
However, most of the news reports they saw focused on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the attempted bombing in Times Square, drawing attention—and funds—away from communities pummeled by spring storms.
Responding to the crisis, the United Methodist Committee on Relief on June 8 issued a special appeal—U.S. Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #901670—for all affected areas in the southeastern United States. UMCOR e-mailed the appeal to regular donors.
“So much rain fell in two days in Tennessee—15 or more inches in some spots—that experts refer to the event as a ‘1,000-year flood,’ not expecting to see another like it in that span of time,” the Rev. Cynthia Harvey, UMCOR executive, said in the e-mail. “Besides middle and western Tennessee, rain also poured over south-central and western Kentucky and northern Mississippi. Creeks and rivers overflowed their banks and caused flash flooding.”
Crops, especially in west Tennessee, suffered severe storm damage. Families without flood insurance—and many had considered themselves safe from such an event—experienced catastrophic losses.
In Nashville, Memphis and towns and villages spread over 52 counties, neighbors helped neighbors; and volunteers arrived by the busload. Others assembled cleaning buckets and sent them to UMCOR Sager Brown and annual conference depots to deliver to those in need.
However, Harvey said, “news coverage of the disaster receded faster than the floodwaters.”
Great Need for Funding’
“The best estimates say it will be at least two years before the people of Tennessee fully recover from the flood of 2010,” Harvey noted.
“There is great need for funding,” the Rev. Tom Hazelwood said.
Hazelwood, who coordinates UMCOR disaster response in the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America, added, “We want to draw our donors’ attention to this great need so that The United Methodist Church can respond and help as many needy families as possible.”
“Farmers have lost crops and equipment,” said Bill Carr, Memphis Annual (regional) Conference relief coordinator. “Once beautiful, level farmlands are now strewn with cars, tree limbs and other debris carried by floodwaters.
“People are out of school, out of work and out of money. There’s a lot of stress.”
UMCOR has worked with the affected conferences since the storms struck, Hazelwood reported. “We have provided initial emergency grants, thousands of cleanup buckets and personnel.”
The Rev. Jason T. Brock, denominational relief coordinator for the Tennessee Annual Conference, said, “We've been blessed with lots of volunteers, cleaning supplies, food, hygiene, items and cash in meeting some of the immediate relief and cleanup needs. As we begin to transition to long-term rebuilding and unmet needs, we'll be asking for new ways you can serve Christ and neighbor.”
‘We are the Church Together’
Key to the recovery process, he noted, are volunteers “to do rebuilding, offer free counseling services, serve on local community long-term recovery committees (and) at donation/distribution centers, and more.”
In the denomination's Mississippi Conference, the Rev. Wayne Napier, disaster coordinator, expressed thanks for assistance and donations.
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.