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Archives: News & Features - Responding to Disasters

The Nov. 30 earthquake that hit south central Alaska damaged roads and buildings, and in some areas knocked out power and water for a time. No deaths were reported, only minor injuries, and strict building codes apparently prevented building collapses. Photo courtesy of Air National Guard/U.S. Army.

Church steps up after earthquake

Alaska's most powerful earthquake since 1964 caused major road and property damage, and knocked out power and water for many residents who took shelter at a United Methodist Church. Read More

Florida church provides relief services in midst of destruction

"Our church is not the rubble behind us, it is us," says The Rev. John Blount, pastor of St. Andrew United Methodist Church, which sustained heavy damage during Hurricane Michael. View

Lynn Haven United Methodist Church in Panama City, Fla., lost the roof over its sanctuary and its back wall in the winds of Hurricane Michael. Photo courtesy of Lynn Haven United Methodist Church.

United Methodists gear up for Michael relief

United Methodists across the southeastern U.S. are preparing to offer long-term relief after the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the Gulf Coast. Read More

Despite dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, Clarks United Methodist Church found reasons to celebrate and give thanks, including homecoming Sunday, a mortgage-burning ceremony and a visit by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward. Photo by Sam Hodges, UMNS.

Amid floods and devastation, United Methodists give thanks

Clarks United Methodist Church found reasons to celebrate and give thanks, including a mortgage-burning ceremony, homecoming Sunday, and a visit by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward. Read More

Construction work on a building in Hatíllo, Puerto Rico, is part of efforts by UMCOR to rebuild and renew after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September of 2017. Photo by Michelle Maldonado, United Methodist Communications.

Puerto Rican bishop gives thanks to UMCOR

In the year since Hurricane Maria swept across Puerto Rico, UMCOR has contributed more than $20 million to help “Renew, Rebuild and Reconstruct.” Read More

A tree fell on the parsonage of the Rev. Thomas M. Greener and his wife shortly after his wife came downstairs for dinner. No one was injured. The Greeners are among the thousands of people whose lives have been upended by Florence’s wreckage in the Carolinas. Photo courtesy of Thomas M. Greener.

Churchgoers pitch in amid Florence’s floods

As water from the rains of Florence in much of the eastern Carolinas continue to rise, United Methodists have found ways to help as the disaster continues. Read More

Westbury United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas was a hub for relief work by various agencies after flooding in the city in May 2016. Photo by Hannah Terry, The Texas Conference.

Top four worst, and best, ways to help after a disaster

When storms strike, what are the best ways to support those in the path? United Methodist programs make your donations and volunteering have more impact. More

Kim and Donna Hines of Rockport, Texas, who lost their home in Hurricane Harvey, accept a quilt from Zelina Alvarado, a case management worker from the Rio Texas Conference. The conference was able to find financing and volunteer labor that helped the couple make a new home from their garage and a second structure on their property. Photo courtesy of the Rio Texas Conference.

Rio Texas offers hurricane recovery tour

United Methodist conference notes progress made, but need for volunteers continues nine months after Harvey. Read More

United Methodist Insurance, a part of the General Council on Finance and Administration, has put together a free, downloadable booklet on how churches can prepare for natural disasters and extreme weather. Artwork courtesy of GCFA

Help for churches in preparing for disaster

United Methodist Insurance has produced a free e-booklet to help churches prepare for emergencies even before it looks like we're in for nasty weather. Read More

A demolished building barely stands in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Puerto Rico was already reeling from Irma when Maria made landfall Sept. 20, 2017, as a Category 5 hurricane, bringing with it 175 mile-per-hour winds and 40 inches of rain. Photo by the Rev. Gustavo Vasquez, UMNS.

UMCOR allocates $46 million for disaster recovery

Continued response to last year’s major events includes new $16.8 million grant for Methodist Church of Puerto Rico. Read More

An anchor stands atop a wrecked boat after Hurricane Irma demolished St. Martin. Upper Room Ministries sponsored a devotional-writing workshop on the island during a three-day retreat to help participants express their trauma after the September 2017 disaster. Photo courtesy of Upper Room Ministries.

Writing helps Irma survivors confront trauma

Upper Room Ministries hosted a workshop in Irma-affected St. Martin to help ‘Find God’s Peace’ after storm. Read More

A torn flag of Puerto Rico waves from a car a week after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. Photo by the Rev. Gustavo Vasquez, UMNS.

Bishop: Puerto Rico rises with church’s help

Bishop Ortiz told the Council of Bishops about the ways United Methodists are already helping the people of the U.S. territory. Read More

Lisa Mentges (center) works with a United Methodist volunteer team in October 2013 to repair her home in Long Beach, N.Y. after it was flooded by Hurricane Sandy. The volunteers are from the California-Pacific Conference. United Methodists have continued to help with recovery in the five years following the storm. File photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

5 years later, Sandy cleanup continues

Churches in areas hard-hit by Superstorm Sandy celebrate what’s done — but see much still to do. Read More

A home in Everglades City, Fla. tilts precariously following damage by Hurricane Irma. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

Florida churches commit to long post-Irma recovery

Estimates are that it will take five years for Florida to recover from Hurricane Irma’s damage. The United Methodist Church plans to be there for all of it. Read More

Sandy McCall looks through her furniture and flooded possessions on the street outside her home in Orange, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

UMCOR is there for the long haul after disasters

The United Methodist Church’s relief agency walks alongside conferences to make sure survivors get what they need at every stage of a disaster. Read More

A GOES-16 [satellite] geocolor image of Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico as it made landfall on Sept. 20. Although not yet operational, data from NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite proved vital in forecasting operations for Hurricane Maria as it neared Puerto Rico. Image courtesy of NOAA/NASA/CIRA.

Standing with Puerto Rican church after hurricanes

United Methodists pray for safety “and stand in solidarity as one Methodist family.” Read More

The Sept. 19 earthquake in Mexico damaged tile roofs and plaster walls at the Tree of Life Center, in the village of Tlancualpican. The center is part of the United Methodist-supported Give Ye Them to Eat ministry. Photo courtesy Muriel Henderson.

Earthquake hits Methodist churches, ministry

Methodists in Mexico assess damage while joining relief efforts after their country’s second major temblor this month. Read More

The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell greets volunteer Mary Jackson at the doorway of the food and clothing distribution center at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

Houston churches go flat out with flood relief

Bishop expresses pride but also tells volunteers to pace themselves and ʽfind time for Sabbath.’ Read More

Fifth- and sixth-graders at Monroe Academy donate supplies for a relief bucket drive sponsored by First United Methodist Church in Monroeville, Ala. Photo courtesy of Alabama-West Florida Conference.

Churches helping one bucket at a time

United Methodists rally to help survivors of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma cleanup. Read More

Larry Magee, who is a homeless artist, asked the Rev. Vicki Walker of Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, Fla., to keep safe paintings he had created during Hurricane Irma. She did. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Vicki Walker.

Waiting to assess impact of Hurricane Irma

As Hurricane Irma continued its meandering path from the Caribbean to the Southeastern U.S., United Methodists provided shelter and prepared for relief work. Read More

While children enjoy the playground, the adult congregation of Lake Houston United Methodist Church in Huffman, Texas, reacts to the message of the Sunday sermon by the Rev. Frank Coats. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

Harvey survivors mindful of those in Irma’s path

United Methodists in southeast Texas continue to face big challenges from ruinous floods. Read More

Volunteers board up windows at East Naples United Methodist Church in Naples, Fla., in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Photo courtesy of East Naples United Methodist Church via Facebook.

United Methodists prepare for Irma to hit U.S.

From Florida to the Carolinas, conferences and churches in the hurricane’s projected path are taking precautions. Read More

The Rev. Scott Moore, the director of missional excellence for the Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, works from a forklift during a “water drive” in Conroe, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey. The efforts to help make sure disaster relief teams had enough water for the thirsty town where floodwaters shut down the water system. Photo by Brant Mills, courtesy of the Texas Conference

‘God moments’ spur pastor’s Harvey relief efforts

The Rev. Scott Moore of the Texas Conference recounts how obstacles that seemed insurmountable vanished in a series of events he says were beyond coincidence. Read More

Pastors preach comfort to Harvey survivors

United Methodists gathered to worship after Harvey, and bishops from the Rio Texas and Texas conferences visited churches and communities that were damaged. Read More

Bishop John Yambasu gives the benediction at the end of a remembrance and thanksgiving service for the victims and survivors of a devastating landslide at the bottom of Mount Sugar Loaf, Sierra Leone, on Aug. 27. United Methodists — including entire families — are among the hundreds killed after torrential rains caused deadly mudslides and flooding near Freetown. Photo by Phileas Jusu. UMNS.

COB President appeals for prayers and disaster relief support

Bishop Bruce R. Ough urges all United Methodists to pray and offer support to survivors of Gulf Coast flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone. Read More

Volunteers from Houston’s Bear Creek United Methodist Church used boats to help residents evacuate from Tropical Storm Harvey’s rising floodwaters. Photo by Michele Sibley, courtesy Bear Creek United Methodist Church.

Churches shelter many as Harvey damage spreads

Beyond Houston, communities and United Methodist churches cope with flooding and displacement from lingering tropical storm. Read More

Clergy from the Council of Churches of Sierra Leone lead a procession of worshippers to an area at the bottom of Mount Sugar Loaf where hundreds of bodies that were not recovered are still buried under the rubble of a devastating landslide. A service of remembrance and thanksgiving for the victims and survivors was held at the bottom of Mount Sugar Loaf, Aug. 27. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UMNS.

Service provides chance to mourn mudslide victims

As the death toll continues to rise, United Methodist Bishop John Yambasu helped organize a service of remembrance that allowed survivors to mourn the dead. Read More

The Island in the Son United Methodist Church in Corpus Christ, Texas, was badly damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The Rio Texas Conference hopes to get emergency response teams to the Corpus Christi area by Aug. 29. Photo courtesy the Rio Texas Conference.

Harvey floods hit Houston churches

Bishop calls damage ʽcatastrophic’ as the hurricane that became a lingering tropical storm continues to wreak havoc. Read More

Susan E. Dillozon, (center in green) is a United Methodist deaconess who is serving as a pastoral worker in Methodist Filipino Ministry in Macau, China. The mission house became a refuge to evacuees after the devastation of Typhoon Hato, the biggest storm in this area in years. Photo courtesy of Susan Dillozon.

Typhoon Hato victims flee to Macau Filipino Methodist Mission

Filipino United Methodist members take shelter as biggest storm in five years pounds area. Read More

The Rev. Henry Samuel of Vine Memorial Baptist Church, an affiliate member of the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone, prays with and consoles a group of women who lost 17 members of their family during the Aug. 14 flood and landslide in in Freetown. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UMNS.

Church providing emergency health services after mudslide

The United Methodist Church is providing emergency health services for survivors of the flood and mudslide that has killed nearly 500 people. Read More

Death toll more than 200 in Congo landslide

The East Congo bishop has called on the entire community to help after a landslide in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo left more than 200 dead. Read More

A view of Sugar Loaf Mountain in Regent area of Freetown, Sierra Leone, shows the breadth of the area that was devastated by flooding on Aug. 14. Torrential rains led a mudslide that resulted in the death of nearly 400 people with figures expected to rise as recovery efforts continue. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UMNS.

Hundreds dead, missing in Sierra Leone mudslides, flooding

The numbers of dead and missing after torrential rains led to deadly mudslides is expected to rise as recovery efforts continue. Read More

The Rev. Susan Ferguson (center) of Asbury United Methodist Church in Lafayette, La., prays with Trent Noel (right) and his son, Jay Barnes, who are gutting flood-damaged drywall at the home of Noel's mother in Lafayette, La., in August 2016. As the one-year anniversary of the flood approaches, United Methodists in Louisiana are looking for more volunteer teams to continue the recovery work. File photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Louisiana needs flood-recovery volunteers

A year after Louisiana's “1,000-year rain,” United Methodists are helping residents with home repairs and other support services. Read More

Pastor Jucar Tabunan (right) receives a Freeplay solar radio from April Mercado as part of the 2016 Typhoon Haima disaster response. Photo courtesy of April Mercado, United Methodist Communications.

Responding to needs in Philippines: Typhoon Haima

The United Methodist Church was on the ground after Typhoon Haima made landfall, supporting lifesaving communication channels and basic human needs. Read More

McBride United Methodist Church, South Mills, North Carolina, had eight to 10 inches of flood water in the fellowship hall after Hurricane Matthew. The ground was already saturated from September floods.

United Methodist churches assessing Hurricane Matthew damage

Fierce storm has left nearly 1,000 dead in Haiti and at least 38 dead in the United States, with 19 of those in North Carolina. Read More

Methodist Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz and other Methodist pastors were some of the first people to reach Baracoa, Cuba, on Oct. 6, to bring emergency supplies for church members and neighbors affected by Hurricane Matthew.

United Methodist churches watching Hurricane Matthew

Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas were hit hard by the storm that now threatens the east coast of the United States. Read More

The sanctuary of Oconee Street United Methodist Church in Athens, Ga., shortly after the fire on April 15, 2013, (left) and back in use on Sept. 11, 2016. The cross survived. Photos courtesy of the Rev. Lisa Caine and Heather Hahn

How a church fire sparked congregational growth

A Georgia church’s experience offers lessons for faith communities overcoming disaster. Read More

The Rev. Mark Crosby (left) meets with members of the disaster relief group at Live Oak United Methodist Church in Watson, La. The group has been meeting daily during the flooding crisis in southern Louisiana.

Church becomes safe place from floodwaters

Live Oak United Methodist Church became refuge for more than 400 people fleeing for their lives after historic flood. Read More

Volunteers and workers in Kokomo, Ind. unload donations and supplies to assist those in need after a tornado struck the city. You can help those affected by natural disasters by supporting the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Photo by Skyler Nimmons.

Responding to floods, tornadoes in Indiana

With grants from UMCOR, United Methodists in Indiana start to address effects of August’s disastrous weather. Read More

The Clendinin (W. Va.) United Methodist Church was heavily damaged by flooding in June, 2016. Photo by Mike DuBose, United Methodist Communications.

Responding to the floods in West Virginia

West Virginia was hit by historic flooding in June, 2016. Find ways you can help the recovery efforts. More

Disaster response leaders in West Virginia will be at work after severe flooding there in June, 2016. Image courtesy of West Virginia Annual Conference.

How to help after flooding in West Virginia

United Methodists can offer donations and support to teams in areas hit by what's been called the worst flood in a century. More

The southeast Texas town of Deweyville, Texas experienced heavy flooding during Holy Week last month, including the Deweyville United Methodist Church, shown here. Conditions have improved, but the nearby Sabine River remains at flood stage. Photo courtesy Texas Conference.

Texas flooding prompts relief work, prayers

Latest heavy rains have hit Houston, causing deaths and widespread flooding of buildings. Read More

United Methodists  from Foundry UMC in Sterlington, La. helped salvage items from a neighbor's flooded home. Image courtesy of Louisiana Annual Conference.

Louisiana churches provide help amid floods

As rising waters forced thousands to flee their homes in Louisiana, United Methodists stepped up for neighbors in need. Read More

Satellite image of Hurricane Patricia. Courtesy:

Pray for those affected by Hurricane Patricia

The storm caused flooding and damage in Mexico and nearby regions. Learn how you can support the church's disaster relief programs. More

Floodwaters at Canaan UMC, Ridgeville, South Carolina. Photo by Shawn Salley.

South Carolina trusting in God, after ‘1,000-year-flood’

Bishop Holston urges prayer, generosity, and volunteerism as the state begins to recover. See the latest updates and how you can help. Read More

The Rev. Hadley Edwards kisses Estelle Julian during a visit to her home in New Orleans' 7th Ward. Edwards was going door to door to tell people about

Coming soon: ‘The Spirit Church’

The 7th Ward of New Orleans has a United Methodist presence for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. Read More

Volunteers put lives, homes back together after Katrina

Epworth Project helps connects thousands of volunteers to homeowners who needed help after Katrina. Read More

Earthquake survivors make their way past piles of rubble in Kathmandu, Nepal. Accessing affected rural villages remains a significant challenge, say United Methodist missionaries assigned there.

Nepal relief challenge: accessing rural villages

United Methodist missionaries report extensive damage outside of Kathmandu and difficulty in getting food and shelter supplies to earthquake survivors. Read More

Filipino clergy hopeful for disaster risk reduction

A United Nations report has identified the Philippines as the country that is the third most at-risk for disaster because of climate change  — after the South Pacific island nations... Read More

Volunteers load a truck at the offices of the United Methodist Committee on Relief in Manila with relief supplies for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Photo by Mike DuBose, United Methodist News Service.

Interested in disaster training? It’s in your area

The Committee on Relief has training around the U.S. for early response, home repair, mission leaders and more, from March until September. Read More

Pastor Iris Picardal Terana describes how floodwaters from the 2013 typhoon washed through Light and Life United Methodist Church in Tacloban, Philippines.  A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

Commentary: Is the Philippines ready for an earthquake?

A year after typhoon, disaster preparedness is a high priority in Philippines. Read More

The interior of Napa First United Methodist shows debris and damage to the church following the recent 6.0 earthquake in California.  Photo by Amy Herzog, Napa First United Methodist Church.

Update: Downtown Napa earthquake damage includes church

Vallejo church also loses brick façade Aug. 24 in strongest northern California earthquake in 25 years. Read More

UMCom representative April Grace G. Mercado demonstrates how to use the Solio solar chargers to the youth in Ormoc City following Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines Nov. 8, 2013.

April Mercado: Technology aids disaster recovery

This disaster responder has seen firsthand how technology can save lives after a tragedy. Mercado will speak at the 2015 Game Changers Summit, Sept. 17-19. View

Damage from tornado in Joplin, Missouri in 2011. Photo courtesy The Missouri Conference.

Joplin church focuses on disaster response, then and now

Three years after tornadoes ripped through Joplin, Missouri, United Methodists are rebuilding homes and learning from the past. Read More

Devastation of downtown Pilger, Neb., after tornadoes struck northeast Nebraska, June 16, 2014. Photo courtesy Linda Stewart, Great Plains Annual (regional) Conference.

Churches reach out after Nebraska tornadoes

The Great Plains Annual (regional) Conference asks for prayers following deadly storms. Read how United Methodists are helping in northeast Nebraska. Read More

United Methodists respond to deadly tornadoes

Lives have been lost and structures have major damage but "the love of God has a way of bringing the best out of people." Read More

Photo courtesy of Korean Coast Guard/ Wikipedia Commons

Bishops offer comfort after ferry disaster

As hundreds remain missing after last week’s disaster, United Methodist leaders reached out to the people of South Korea. Read More

Lieutenant commander Rev. Jennifer Bowden,  a Navy Chaplain and a United Methodist, is serving near Oso, Washington after devastating mudslide. Photo courtesy of the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Navy Chaplain serves in Washington mudslide disaster

Jennifer Bowden is serving Navy families and helping with the search for survivors in Oso. "Every day I go in it's surreal." Read More

UMCOR monitoring Chile after earthquake

The Committee on Relief, which is in touch with humanitarian partners in northern Chile, requests your prayers for survivors of magnitude 8.2 temblor Read More

Clergy and other church leaders lay hands on Bill Ohler during a disaster response meeting at Christ's Community United Methodist Church in Joplin, Mo. Ohler is a trustee at St. James United Methodist Church, that was destroyed by the tornado. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Disaster recovery is much more than cleanup

Survivors may experience an inability to cope, a crisis of faith or a loss of hope. United Methodist Committee on Relief explains that spiritual healing is as necessary as physical... Read More

The Rev. Kelly Clem stands to offer the benediction and blessing at Goshen United Methodist Church in Piedmont, Ala., at the close of the service commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Palm Sunday 1994 tornado that killed 20 members of Goshen Methodist Church, where Clem was then pastor.  At right is the Rev. Joe DeWitte, current pastor of Goshen Methodist Church. Photo by Kay Campbell,

20 years after tornado, Kelly Clem speaks at church commemoration

Former pastor lost her 4-year-old daughter in tragic storm, but returned to be part of a service in church's new building. “A hundred little gifts reminded us that God is... Read More

A Dec. 22, 2012, fire destroyed the sanctuary, office area and part of the fellowship hall of Gideon Grove United Methodist Church, Stokesdale, N.C. Photo by the Rev. Nancy Rankin.

Church fires: Damage, recovery, prevention

During 2012 and early 2013, fire destroyed or damaged more than a dozen United Methodist church properties across the United States. Read More

Workers tear down the main building of the Asian Rural Institute, which was damaged during Japan’s March 11, 2011 earthquake. The institute has received $1.15 million from the United Methodist Committee on Relief to reconstruct and repair its buildings. UMNS Photo courtesy of Jonathan McCurley, ARI. Accompanies UMNS story #067. 3/9/12.; Jonathan McCurley, ARI

Japan: Three years after triple disaster

The Committee on Relief assesses the need for long-term recovery and the “hidden wounds” of 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan. Read More

The Church in China: Focus on disaster relief

When disaster strikes, Amity goes to front lines, a new action in a country where government traditionally managed disaster response. Read More

Oklahoma climbs back after multiple tornadoes

United Methodists in Oklahoma extend relief work to areas hit by massive May 31 tornado, widest on record. Read More

When disaster hits: Churches must prepare

Texas tornados left six dead, many homeless. Learn how UMCOR, annual conferences provide disaster response training. Read More

Church fire guts building, not spirit

Outreach to Athens, Ga., community will continue as Oconee Street United Methodist Church faces uncertain future. Read More

When disaster hits: Lessons from others

As tornadoes and floods challenge churches, one clergywoman says, "People do not recover without support, nudging and compassion." Read More

Disaster recovery: Indiana town bounces back

One year after tornado levels Henryville, pastor says, "When we bind together as the body of Christ, we are a force to be reckoned with." Read More

Disaster recovery: Harvest reaps blessings

The tornado gave church new opportunity to reinvent itself, learn from past, embrace a brighter future, says Alabama pastor. Read More

Disaster recovery: Minot celebrates beginnings

"The flood changed my entire ministry here," says the Rev. Debra Ball-Kilbourne, pastor of Faith United Methodist Church. Read More

‘Moments of deep grace’ after church fire

"People from all denominations have rallied to our cause" with prayer and encouragement after church fires. Part 3 of a Special Report. Read More

Church fires challenge United Methodists

Part 1: Whether caused by lightning strike or arsonist's torch, blazes force congregations to face the unknown, accept help from others. Read More

2012: A year’s worth of disasters

As pain stretched across continents and touched some places already damaged, United Methodists throughout the connection responded. Read More

United Methodists open doors in disasters

From Colorado to the Atlantic coast, churches have worked to help those suffering in the clutches of the summer of 2012. Read More

Colorado Springs fire bypasses church

Staff evacuates Wilson UMC as Waldo Canyon fire spreads to part of city. Read More

Churches respond to 700 miles of U.S. storms

United Methodists assess damages while they open doors to cool, feed people as stifling heat continues in Midwest, Mid-Atlantic. Read More

Iowa church was shelter in the storm

Congregation's decision not to lock its doors leaves a safe haven for a family of five as tornados wreak havoc through Central Plains. Read More

Churches reach out after swath of storms

A steady stream of tornadoes Feb. 28-March 2 has congregations seeking creative ways to help their communities. Read More