(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.
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.)
Gifts to support the ongoing efforts of St. John’s UMC Tremont and other area churches in the North District’s western region can be labeled specifically “North District Flood Relief.” District Superintendent Steve Morton delivered $3,000 in district emergency funds Monday to St, John’s UMC to aid in its immediate support for Tremont residents flooded out of their homes just three weeks ago. Much more is needed. (See “Connectional team to respond to local flood disaster” story.)
Some who were able to get back into their homes found themselves underwater again this week. In Tremont 19 homes were flooded this time.
Disaster Response Coordinator Robert Simcox is seeking Volunteers in Mission (VIM) work teams and individuals who can go in and start “mucking out homes” this Saturday. “Any teams with experience, please contact me,” he said. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610) 427-0470.
Meanwhile, the conference will receive a $10,000 emergency grant from UMCOR (UM Committee on Relief) to help St. John’s UMC “alleviate human suffering through aiding households.” The church was not damaged but has set up as a disaster information center and hopes to welcome recovery work teams to its neighborhood soon. “The congregation has taken a leadership role in the response,” Simcox said. Learn more.
By John W. Coleman
“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.
“Volunteers are needed immediately now and in the coming year,” said Simcox. “They will be working with the community in the recovery and rebuilding phase.” That work includes listening to and consoling residents to help them overcome the emotional toll of the storms’ destruction. 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’.
|Call new flood recovery hotline for aid through end of August: Pennsylvania residents trying to recover from recent rainstorm flooding have a place to turn for help. The state has a new, temporary disaster response hotline phone number they can call through the end of August. Governor Tom Wolf recently announced the emergency contact service. Learn more…|
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
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
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.