Disaster Relief Update

As you probably know, we are coming up on the first anniversary of Hurricane Michael with Hurricane Dorian fresh in our memories. The Panama City area is still in a state of devastation, and the wheels of recovery are turning too slowly for comfort. The pictures coming from the Bahamas are heart-wrenching. It is good to know that UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is often first in and last out in cases like this. One hundred percent of the dollars we send to UMCOR go straight to the field (our apportionments fund overhead costs).
We are currently reassessing our ability as a church to be a place of refuge in a disaster. Our facilities have become busier with the many ministries we are performing, and many of our volunteers are aging out. If you would like to help in times of disaster, we need to hear from you!

In the wake of Hurricane Michael, the Alabama-West Florida conference has redoubled its efforts to organize future disasters. Each district has a disaster preparedness team headed by a coordinator, and there is a concerted effort to train and (re)certify people to respond to disasters. We are developing a network of supply drop-off locations whenever there is a call for donations of material (our church is one of them).

There are things each of us can do to help our neighbors:
  • Give money. We are being asked to refrain from sending supplies to the Bahamas' relief efforts right now; they are not prepared to receive large amounts of goods. Money is portable and flexible and can be converted to whatever is needed. If you wish to give to the Bahamas relief efforts, write "Bahamas" on your check.
  • Get trained. The best way to be useful on the ground in times of disaster is to be trained ahead of time. We offer basic ERT (Emergency Response Team) training at many locations. Once you have received necessary certification, you may pursue more training opportunities to include ladder safety, chainsaw operation, damage assessment, etc. 
  • Be part of a team here. We can accomplish many different tasks without ever leaving town, sometimes without even leaving our houses. Making sandwiches for work crews, building clean-up kits, shopping for items, etc. If you can help in this way, please contact Larry Lewellen or Pastor Brian
  • Be part of a team there. We are trying to get volunteers willing to travel to Panama City for short, three-day trips. Since we are so close, we could come home each night and sleep in our own beds. Right now, the primary task is tarping. Some of the houses that were tarped a year ago must be re-tarped. No date is set yet, but if you are willing to serve in this way, please contacts Larry Lewellen or Pastor Brian.
 
I am very proud of our ability to respond in these ways through our Methodist connection. Other churches have willing hearts and hands, but they lack the covenant relationship with churches worldwide that makes the United Methodist connection so capable. When we work together, even the smallest gestures of help and the tiniest trickle of money join together with many others to form a great torrent of blessings for those in need. God bless you all.
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Brian Dale

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