Main Menu

Florida United Methodists continue recovery efforts after Fay

Florida United Methodists continue recovery efforts after Fay

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Florida United Methodists continue recovery efforts after Fay

Sept. 3, 2008     News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0904}

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — United Methodists across Florida are offering assistance to people affected by Tropical Storm Fay last month, while casting a wary eye to the Atlantic for storms named Hanna, Ike and Josephine.

Volunteers at Estero United Methodist Church unload flood buckets in preparation for floodwaters receding in Lee County. The church also received 500 health kits for distribution. Photo by Lamar Kent. Photo #08-0979.

Teams of volunteers have been at work mucking out homes, placing tarps on damaged roofs in South Florida and helping clear out debris left in the storm’s wake.

Floodwaters are still receding in several parts of the state, with some rivers still yet to crest. Cleanup will be a major task in recovery efforts, according to Marilyn Swanson, executive director of the Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Ministry, and volunteers will be needed in many areas as soon as waters recede.

“Volunteers are asked to contact disaster recovery ministry if they are interested in helping,” Swanson said. Those wanting to volunteer may send an e-mail to or call 800-282-8011, extension 149.

Disaster recovery ministry is also working to secure sites near flooded areas to store flood buckets. Churches able to house flood buckets should contact the disaster recovery office. Disaster recovery staff and volunteers would also like to know which churches are storing flood buckets and/or FEMA tarps.

Disaster recovery also needs volunteers to assist with intake paperwork at local disaster recovery centers in counties eligible for Individual Assistance. Those counties include Duval, Leon, Seminole, Wakulla, Lee, Hendry, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Volusia and Brevard.

Individual Assistance programs provide a broad range of disaster assistance resources to eligible residents and businesses in declared areas. Federal teams will be setting up operations in disaster recovery centers to help survivors through the application process.

Residents and business owners in declared areas who received damage from Tropical Storm Fay are encouraged to register with FEMA by calling the tele-registration line at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or going online at and clicking on “Disaster Assistance.” United Methodist pastors and lay leaders are urged to share this information with their congregations if they reside in affected counties.

The Florida Conference provides numerous online resources for churches or individuals wanting to help after a storm. An application form for work teams is online at under the “Team Registration” option. Disaster recovery staff and volunteers will match work team skills with opportunities.

A bulletin insert is also available online at for local churches to download, duplicate and distribute during their worship services. The insert provides information on where to send donations and how to volunteer.

Members of the Deltona Fire Department Search and Rescue team deliver food and medications to stranded residents of this Volusia County community six days after the initial landfall of Tropical Storm Fay. FEMA photo by Barry Bahler. Photo #08-0980.

Assessments of damages to conference churches and parsonages are still being submitted, said Mark Thomas, director of the Florida Conference Department of Ministry Protection.

“So far, we’ve received damage reports from about 40 churches, with ballpark estimates of damage in the neighborhood of $500,000,” Thomas said.

Thomas emphasized that figure is an early estimate and “most certainly would go higher.” No church or parsonage sustained catastrophic damage, he said, with most of the reports citing damage from floodwaters or leaky roofs.

Congregations that sustained damage from Tropical Storm Fay should contact Thomas’ office at 800- 282-8011 and Johns Eastern Co. adjusters at 800-767-9480.


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.