Aug 22, 2018

By John W. Coleman

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.

Experienced VIM disaster recovery teams needed asap

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 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.

“We are anxious to get things moving and provide some light for our community,” said Suzanne Schach, the church’s onsite disaster response coordinator. “Many people are stressed and struggling emotionally because they have nowhere to turn for help.”

“Suzanne doesn’t have to look for people to help; God is sending them to her literally,” said Dwain Hostetter, West District Disaster Response Coordinator, who is helping in the effort because he lives nearby in the Lebanon area.

Extensive flooding and some lifesaving rescues were reported in Montgomery, Berks, Schuylkill, Delaware and other counties. “The flooding is very serious. Portions of Darby were evacuated, but all our districts’ churches are OK,” reported South District Superintendent the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm.

“I feel Spiritual Care is going to be a priority after Tremont’s second flood,” Simcox said. “I ask that we keep all the people who are impacted by the flooding in our prayers.”

The town scheduled a spiritual care meeting for today at its borough hall. Hostetter and Disaster Response Spiritual Care Coordinator the Rev. Rick Rimert planned to attend.