Following Hurricane Michael

Last year when Hurricane Michael hit Panama City and the surrounding area, it left historic devastation that will take years to overcome. Even months later, many people are still struggling to get their lives back in order. Others have left the area with no intention of returning. In response, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) brought supplies, flood buckets, health kits, and work crews to clean up and pave the way for the sustained recovery efforts that are needed.

It is often said that UMCOR is the first to arrive and the last to leave when disaster strikes. This is undoubtedly true here. Immediately they began assessing damage to determine the areas of greatest need. Supplies were already handy to provide the things needed within the first few hours of the disaster, and now they are positioning themselves for long term recovery. UMCOR gave a $628,768 grant to the Alabama-West Florida Conference to establish and staff three volunteer coordinator sites, defray construction costs, and assess future grants. Rev. Chris Ackerman has been named Hurricane Michael Recovery Director, and Tammy Tisher will serve as Assistant Director.

As a result of these new positions, United Methodist churches throughout the country will have an easier time bringing work teams to the job sites where they are most needed. They hope that churches in our conference will send three teams each year for short-term volunteer work.

Each district in the Alabama-West Florida conference has its disaster response coordinator. Ron Toole is the one for the Pensacola District. They are urging churches to organize work teams, identify key helpers in an emergency, and promote Early Response Training (ERT) to certify volunteers for work.

This is just one example of how the connectional system of the United Methodist Church enables us to be more effective in our ministries. Whenever we give to United Methodist initiatives, we join with churches around the world to make a real
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Brian Dale

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