The Rev. Greg Ellis, the Eastern PA Conference’s Disaster Response and Volunteers in Mission Coordinator, has been on the ground in south Texas for over two weeks collaborating in initial disaster response efforts, following the devastation Hurricane Harvey caused there in August. He expects to return home at the end of October.
Since he arrived in Austin, the state capital, on Oct. 10, Ellis has worked with Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) officials and other faith-based organization partners. He has assessed needs, made recommendations, and helped develop and implement training for of Long-Term Recovery Groups (LTRG). He also vets resources and partners, including several local UM churches, for engagement in the long-term recovery process.
“The hardest hit areas are receiving a lot of help,” he reported recently, “but areas that were not in the news are not getting as much support.”
Ellis, who attended college at nearby Trinity University in San Antonio and is a deacon at Asbury UMC Allentown, is on loan to FEMA and the Texas’ Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) network. He was deployed there to work in the joint field office as a faith-based partner of National VOAD, of which the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is a member. (But he is not there officially as a UMCOR representative.)
“I am relieving the Disaster Response coordinator from the Pacific Northwest Conference,” he wrote, “so the UMC has a key role in LTRG formation.”
In addition, at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Emergency Preparedness Summit in September, Ellis was elected president of our state’s VOAD for 2018-2019. His term begins Jan 1. State and national VOADs link organizations to cooperatively “mitigate and alleviate the impact of disasters” and to foster “more effective delivery of services to communities affected by disaster.”