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UMCOR Bright Spots

IN TODAY’S ISSUE
August 30, 2007

Red Arrow-giftDisaster Recovery Leaders Acknowledge Long Road Ahead
Red Arrow-giftCase Management “Best Way to Help”
Red Arrow-giftThis Week's Quote
Red Arrow-giftRecovery Stats
Red Arrow-giftDeep and Lasting Relationships…(Slide Show)

DISASTER RECOVERY LEADERS ACKNOWLEDGE LONG ROAD AHEAD

By Susan J. Meister, Gulf Coast Communications

The two leaders of the Louisiana and Mississippi conference disaster recovery organizations have similar outlooks at the two-year anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina – gratitude for how far they’ve come and a realization of how far they have to go.

Darryl Tate, Executive Director, Louisiana United Methodist Disaster Recovery Ministry.

Darryl Tate, Executive Director, Louisiana United Methodist Disaster Recovery Ministry.
Louisiana Annual Conference

“We’ve been able to organize our response and recovery with the generosity of the people of the United Methodist Church,” explained Darryl Tate, Executive Director, Louisiana United Methodist Disaster Recovery Ministry.

Robert Sharp, Coordinator of Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Recovery, is also proud of the progress in his state, but emphasizes, “People still need help. Some business on the coast say that things are ‘fine’ and that helps them with the tourist dollars, but there is a long way to go.”

Both men celebrate the volunteer teams that have come to Louisiana and Mississippi. They agree that the volunteer teams were good and that many selflessly made multiple trips during the recovery.

Robert Sharp, Coordinator, Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Recovery.

Robert Sharp, Coordinator, Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Recovery.
Woody Woodrick, Mississippi United Methodist Advocate

Tate, while coordinating his conference response, was also one of the 80 pastors displaced by the storm. His church, St. Luke’s United Methodist, and parsonage in Lakeview (New Orleans) were flooded. “This position has been a ‘healing balm’ for me,” he said. “I’ve been able to pour myself into my ministry. You realize that what you’ve gained is more than what you’ve lost.”

His team has coordinated response and rebuilding efforts not only for Katrina, but also Hurricane Rita, which devastated southwest Louisiana less than a month later. “We really need teams in Lake Charles and Abbeville and will be working hard to recruit volunteers,” said Tate.

Seashore Assembly case manager Marianne Gregg (left) worked with Miss Mary and Mr. Thomas as they rebuilt their  home and their lives in Pass Christian, Miss. The couple is  one of the many families assisted by the disaster recovery stations along the Gulf Coast.

Seashore Assembly case manager Marianne Gregg (left) worked with Miss Mary and Mr. Thomas as they rebuilt their home and their lives in Pass Christian, Miss. The couple is one of the many families assisted by the disaster recovery stations along the Gulf Coast.
Susan Meister/UMCOR

Sharp, a former Green Beret and hurricane hunter, calls the job of disaster recovery “the hardest job I’ve ever done.” He draws on his military experience to organize people and resources for the rebuilding effort. “We want to help as many people as we can,” he said. Sharp began his work with the Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Recovery as East Regional Disaster Relief Coordinator, and took over the conference response in January 2007 from Ed Blakeslee.

Ed Blakeslee, who works with the Mississippi recovery team, feels that the experience and infrastructure being developed during this season will be a key factor if another disaster strikes in Mississippi or elsewhere.

More about the recovery efforts underway in Louisiana and Mississippi can be found at the conference web sites: Louisiana United Methodist Disaster Recovery Ministry and Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response. The web sites include information on how to send and equip volunteer teams.

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For more on the United Methodist recovery work visit these web sites:
UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief)
UM News Service
Mississippi Conference
Louisiana Conference
Texas Conference
Alabama-West Florida Conference