Hurricane Charley, in 2004, was the first of seven major hurricanes to cross the state of Florida in less than two years. It would take years to recover economically and restore homes and families.
As a result, The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church set up a storm recovery center to respond to our impacted churches and their communities. No one knew then that this temporary response to Charley would lead to a vital and life-changing ministry. Since 2004, with the support of UMCOR, Disaster Recovery has responded to numerous major events from the Groundhog Day Tornadoes to Hurricane Michael.
We have also responded to smaller disasters as well as disasters outside our conference; every disaster is an opportunity to be God’s love in the midst the pain and loss.
Last year, we began our Disaster Response Front Team (DRFT) as a pilot in partnership with UMCOR. In coordination with our districts, this team is to respond in the immediate aftermath of a disaster to assist local churches in determining how to best respond. This team has been participating in training every four weeks, and as we approach hurricane season, the meetings will happen more frequently. They have completed several simulations, had brainstorming sessions, and have assisted in creating documents to assist us with gathering important information from our survivors.
In addition to our DRFT, we have been able to being our Early Response Team (ERT) trainings again. An Early Response Team is a self-contained team invited to a disaster-affected area to provide specialized physical, emotional and spiritual assistance to survivors. ERTs help with specific needs in the early days after a disaster, cleaning out flood-damaged homes, removing debris, placing tarps on homes and other tasks as needed, while providing a caring Christian presence. Those trainings started in April, and our trainers would love the opportunity to conduct training at your church. For additional information on how to set up training, please reach out to Trish Warren at email@example.com .
With the support of UMCOR we now have a Disaster Partnership and Grants Coordinator. Her role is to cultivate relationships with area businesses throughout the Florida Conference. She secures preferred vendor relationships, which have a long-term sustainability when a disaster response and recovery are required. This will give us an opportunity to have a relationship with businesses who have a passion for serving their community and are willing to discount goods and services, as well as volunteer with Disaster Recovery after a disaster. If you would like additional information on how we are forming relationships with area businesses, please contact Trish Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org .
What should be done to prepare church property prior to a disaster and who should be involved in the preparation?
How will the church care for the congregation during and after a disaster?
How can the church use existing resources before, during and after, a disaster?
How will the church serve the community before, during, and after a disaster?