(From left) The Rev. Nick Camacho, who heads the Helping Puerto Rico Rise Again campaign; Robert Simcox, new Disaster Response Coordinator; the Rev. Russell Atkinson, new Volunteers in Mission Coordinator and Ben Botti, Disaster Response Leadership Team Advisor.
A crisis can happen anytime, anywhere. Planning before, response during and recovery after crises are all critical stages to lessen the severity and longevity of the damage that may occur–that is, structural, physical and emotional damages.
The Eastern PA Conference has key persons and protocols that victims of crises–especially disasters–can call upon for timely, sensitive, experienced assistance. We have a conference Disaster Response Team and District Coordinators ready to help, along with District Superintendents and the Communications Office. All church leaders should learn about disaster response news, information, responders and resources, as well as steps to prepare and response to disasters.
The Eastern PA Conference Disaster Response ministry team will sponsor in partnership with Asbury UMC an ERT training event . The event is scheduled for March 30, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, at Allentown: Asbury UMC 1533 Springhouse Rd. Allentown, PA 18104.
Early Response Team (ERT), whose mission is to provide skilled support to disaster survivors as soon as communities allow response teams into disaster-impacted areas.
The training costs $45 per person, which also provides the book Mission Journey (UMVIM participants will also get the updated VIM Team Leader Resource Toolkit) a light breakfast, and lunch. Learn more…
Many UM Volunteers in Mission have journeyed to Haiti over the years and especially since the earthquake in 2010. Anyone with current plans to go there now should heed the UMVIM agency’s warning.
Due to ongoing anti-corruption protests in Haiti, UMVIM recommends that teams postpone travel to Haiti. Officials are in contact with Global Ministries, the Methodist Guest House in Petionville, and various local partners around the country.
The Methodist Guest House is still receiving teams and has not yet had any trouble picking them up at the airport or keeping them safe at the Guest House, though they acknowledge that the situation could change abruptly.
The U.S. State Department issued an evacuation order this week for children of U.S. embassy personnel and authorized a voluntary evacuation for non-essential personnel. Several VIM teams have cancelled trips to Haiti after conversing with their hosts, particularly in the area of Jeremie. Several other project leaders report that they are in lockdown mode.
Teams who choose to travel should know that travel medical insurance purchased through UMVIM is still effective unless the State Department raises the travel advisory from its current Level 3: Reconsider Travel to a Level 4: Do Not Travel.
Since conditions can change rapidly, updates will be posted weekly on NEJ-UMVIM’s Facebook page. Any teams planning travel to Haiti should be registered with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (step.state.gov) so they can receive updates and travel warnings.
Eastern PA Conference Disaster Ministry Coordinator
Rev. Russell Atkinson
Volunteers in Mission Coordinator
(610) 675 – 7187
Rev. Nick Camacho
EPA Conference Project Coordinator for Puerto Rico Recovery
Volunteers are urgently needed to help the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico as they recover from the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Registrations are now being taken for Early Response Teams (ERT) and Long-Term Recovery (LTR) Teams. ERTs should be in contact with their Conference Disaster Response Coordinator first.
Interested teams are encouraged to visit this link to express their interest in serving: Intent to Serve in Puerto Rico
Additionally, UMCOR will be updating the following webpage with information as it becomes available: www.umcor.org/UMCOR/puerto-rico-volunteers
The Advance Special Project Number for people wishing to donate to support the Eastern PA Conference’s general disaster response work is: #0345. But use #0345PR to support the Helping Puerto Rico Rise Again campaign, which aids the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico’s efforts to recover from devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Thank you for supporting this vital ministry work.
Disaster struck again in Tremont and surrounding towns in Schuylkill County this week. Rainstorms produced flooding in communities throughout our region that some say is worse than the deluge caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
Bishop Peggy Johnson is asking for Eastern PA Conference churches to respond with monetary donations and volunteers to assist in disaster recovery efforts. Donations to the conference’s Disaster Recovery Advance Special Fund (Project #0345) can be addressed and sent to the Conference Treasurer’s Office (Eastern PA Conference UMC, P.O. Box 820, Valley Forge, PA 19482.) Learn more.
Donations, volunteers needed for disaster response
“The Eastern PA Conference is operating in full disaster response phase,” said Disaster Response Coordinator Robert Simcox this week. “We are supporting the Schuylkill County area in flood relief.”
The problem is, he added, experienced, volunteer work teams and individuals are direly needed to help clear damaged, molded items out of flooded homes and perform related tasks, as county residents struggle to recover physically and emotionally from a recent double-drenching of relentless rain storms. Read more…
Also, read the Rev. Jenny Freymoyer’s journal account of what she witnessed and felt during her visits to North District disaster sites last week: Churches, communities of hope ‘make room for a new future’.