Preparing for the Next Disaster

Hurricane Michael was a wake-up call for many people in our area. It
was the first Category 5 hurricane ever to hit the contiguous United
States and the devastation was enormous. Relief and rebuilding efforts
continue in the Panama City area and will for years. In response to this,
the Alabama-West Florida conference is engaged in new initiatives to
better respond to such disasters. They have developed a new office for long-term recovery efforts led by Rev. Chris Ackerman as the Hurricane Michael Recovery Director and Tammy  Tisher as the Assistant Director. Under their leadership, the enormous task before them is starting to gain momentum and show signs of progress.

Most of the work, however, is being done on the district level. In our
Pensacola District, the coordinator, is Ron Toole, of Trinity UMC FWB.
He has done an admirable job of gathering resources and specifying
needs for each church that will be useful in the next disaster. Our representative in this effort is Larry Lewellen, who has experienced disaster response and pays excellent attention to detail. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Larry for taking on this vital task. If you would like to help in our church's disaster recovery efforts, here are some things you can do:
  • Just ask! Larry Lewellen will be delighted to hear from you!
  • Involve your Sunday school class or small group. If your class wants to work together on a project, UMCOR is collecting cleaning kits, hygiene kits, and school kits to deliver. These are made up ahead of time and stored to allow for immediate response to a disaster. For a most updated list of supplies, go to this website: https://www.umcmission.org/umcor 
  • Donate to UMCOR. Just write UMCOR on the memo line of your check. Or you can donate online on our website or at the kiosk located in the FLC. At the time of a disaster, we will make appeals for donations of specific items. Shalimar UMC won't generally collect unless specific details are requested.
  • Join a work team. The conference asks each church to send three teams a year to help with clean up and restoration. These teams usually go for five days straight. Shalimar UMC is planning to partner with Trinity UMC on this effort under Ron Toole's leadership. If you would like to participate, please contact Larry Lewellen.
  • Become ERT certified. Early Response Training covers the basics of early disaster response, including roof tarping, cleaning out damaged homes, spiritual and emotional care, team protocols, and more. In some cases, only certified people will be allowed into an area when we first respond. If you are not already ERT certified or need to be recertified, we are hosting a training day on August 17. Call the church office to register and bring a friend! You do not need to be a member.

Hurricane Michael hit close to home, and many of us have seen
first-hand the devastation and life interruption that happens. It is only a
matter of time before we have another opportunity to help or be helped.
Disaster preparedness is something we can all be involved in.
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Brian Dale

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