Eastern Pennsylvania Conference responds to Hurricane Irene


Westtown Road in Westtown Township experienced flooding as the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek flooded its banks.  Photo by James Brown.

Hurricane Irene buffeted southeastern Pennsylvania with high winds and torrential rains from Saturday evening through Sunday morning.  The area’s many waterways flooded, causing damage to homes, businesses, roads, and bridges.  High winds took down many trees and telephone poles, causing damage to properties, blocking roads, and causing many power-outages.  Some of the area’s school districts cancelled the first day of school because of loosing power or because buses could not get through in some areas.

At this time there are no reports of damage to any United Methodist churches.  Most churches held Sunday morning worship despite high winds and rain.

Bishop Peggy Johnson sent out an appeal early Sunday morning1 to The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s 463 churches to pray for all persons affected by the hurricane, to take a special offering next Sunday for disaster relief in the conference, and to begin collecting flood buckets.2
According to Ben Botti, Eastern Pennsylvania Volunteers in Mission Coordinator, his church, First United Methodist Church in Perkasie, PA, served as an evacuation center for the Borough of Perkasie.  They opened their doors at 3:00 am Sunday morning and hosted forty people who were evacuated from the Covered Bridge Apartments adjacent to the East Branch of the Perkomen Creek.  The church provided a dry place to stay for the morning and a light breakfast.
Botti is also setting up collection sites throughout the conference to receive donations of flood buckets.
Debra DePrinzio, Disaster Response Coordinator for E. PA Conference said, “PEMA – the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency – asked the United Methodists and the Mennonites to be the first involved in the disaster response.   They fondly call us the M & M’s.  We have a reputation for being the first ones to help after a disaster and the last to leave.  Both are part of the southeastern Pennsylvania VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Assisting Disasters).”
The counties of southeastern Pennsylvania are currently in the process of assessing damage.  By tomorrow, they should have reports for the different counties in terms of the number of people affected.  PEMA and the VOADs will meet by telephone conference to assess what needs to be done.
“We are asking congregations and community members to report damage from the hurricane or tornadoes to their municipalities to be counted as part of the damage assessment,” said DePrinzio.  “The numbers will determine if the region will be declared a Federal emergency or not.”
The “M&M’s” expect to send the first of early response teams to Whitemarsh Township to help with mucking out of homes this weekend.
Bishop Peggy Johnson submitted a $10,000 grant request to UMCOR for disaster relief.  Bishop Johnson also said that Delaware (part of the Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conference for which she is also bishop) was hit hardest of all by the hurricane and tornadoes.
1) Bishop Johnson’s Message:
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Over the weekend we have experienced a huge hurricane and I thank God that it was not as bad as it could have been but I am well aware that many have experienced loss and suffering from wind and water.  Psalm 93:3 says “The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.”  Indeed this has been fulfilled on many levels.  This same psalm reminds us of the sovereignty of God:  “more majestic than the thunders of mighty waters,  more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the Lord.”  (v.4)  God is with us and as agents of God’s love and we need to be prayerful and helpful at this time as we assist those in need. 

Please assess any damage that to your church/parsonage property and call the EHD Insurance at 610-280-0410 (Marige Follette or Jim Lewis).   Be in touch with your district superintendent as well if there has been any property damage.  Click here for insurance information:  http://www.epaumc.org/resources/churchlead/trustees

Please take a special offering next Sunday and send funds to the Eastern PA Annual Conference (PO Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482).  Write “Hurricane Irene” in the memo line.

More information will be available from our Disaster Response team about collections of flood buckets and work teams in the days to come.  

2)  Cleaning Bucket Kit Items   CLICK HERE for printable Flood Bucket flyer

Value: $55 per bucket.

  • 5-gallon bucket with resealable lid
    Buckets from fast food restaurants or bakeries can be used if washed and cleaned.
    Do not use buckets that have stored chemicals such as paint or pool cleaner.
    Advertisements on the outside are acceptable
  • liquid laundry detergent 
    (two 25 oz. or one 50 oz. bottles only)
  • liquid household cleaner
    12-16 oz. liquid cleaner that can be mixed with water
    no spray cleaners
  • dish soap
    16-28 oz. bottle, any brand
  • 1 can air freshner
    aerosol or pump
  • 1 insect repellant spray
    6 – 14 oz. aerosol spay pump with protective cover
  • 1 scrub brush
    plastic or wooden handle
  • 18 cleaning wipes
    handi wipes or reusable wipes
    no terry cleaning towels
    remove from packaging
  • 7 sponges
    remove from wrapper
  • 5 scouring pads
    remove from wrapper
  • 50 clothespins
    remove from packaging
  • clothesline
    two 50ft. or one 100ft.
    cotton or plastic
  • 24 roll heavy duty trash bags
    remove from the box
  • 5 dust masks
  • 2 pair disposable kitchen gloves
    rubber or latex
    remove from packaging
  • 1 pair work gloves
    cotton or leather

Assembling Directions

Place all liquid items in the bucket first. Place remaining items in the bucket fitting them around and between the liquid items. Sponges, scouring pads, clothespins and trash bags can be separated in order to fit all of the items in the bucket. Ensure the lid is closed securely.

Important Notes

‐All items must be new except for the actual bucket and lid.
‐All cleaning agents must be liquid and in plastic containers. No powders please.
‐If you cannot find the requested size of a liquid item, use a smaller size. Including larger sizes of any item will prevent the lid from sealing.
‐UPS, FED EX and the US Postal Service will not ship buckets containing bleach. In such case, you may leave the bleach out of the bucket.
‐If all of the items on the list are not included, please put a label on the bucket indicating what has been omitted.
‐Cleaning buckets are only used within the United States. They are not opened to verify the contents unless there is indication some items have been omitted.