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UMCOR Spring Storms



For more than 70 years, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has aided those struck by disaster. The agency has been especially challenged in 2011 due to an unprecedented number of serious storms across the U.S. Reed Galin has the story.

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(Locator: Joplin, Missouri)

Those recovering from life's storms can count on the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

UMCOR's roots are in World War II, when retired Bishop Herbert Welch called for an agency to respond to human suffering worldwide, and to act as "a voice of conscience among Methodists."

The Rev. Cynthia Harvey oversees the work of UMCOR today.

The Rev. Cynthia Harvey: "I think when we pull up and they see the UMCOR logo or the cross and flame, I think our church people are excited to tell their neighbor, 'This is my church, this is my church that is here to respond to our needs.' I believe when people are in crisis, sometimes they don't even know where to begin, where do you begin to assess, and to find out what you've even lost. We have the ability to do that."

(Announcer) "There is a tornado on the ground&ellipsis;"

When a record number of natural disasters hit the United States in spring of 2011, UMCOR moved in to assess needs. Tom Hazelwood has directed U.S. disaster response for the agency since 1998.

Tom Hazelwood: "Our ability to reach and connect quickly almost anywhere in the United States is just a unique thing to our denomination that's so powerful to me. And it makes me proud that we're able to do that."

But resources have been stretched more than ever.

The Rev. Cynthia Harvey: "Through the end of April, we had already responded to as many storms as we had actually had in all of 2010, and almost as many as we had in 2009. We're not even halfway through the year and already our response is greater than it's been in the last two years. And frankly, my concern is that hurricane season is just beginning. We are often the last to leave an area that has been devastated, in any kind of crisis -Katrina, Hurricanes Rita and Ike, and the list goes on."

So, what can be done?

Tom Hazelwood: "What is needed more than anything else is money. We have the most flexibility to be able to use that in whatever way it's needed in the community. One of the things that we're most proud at UMCOR and our United Methodist system is that if you give us one dollar, one dollar goes to that disaster. And there's not very many relief organizations, if any other, that can say that 100% of every dollar, every penny that's given goes to that disaster."

The Rev. Cynthia Harvey: "As people of faith, we are called to respond to our brothers and sisters, and that's what we do first and foremost. We don't just respond to United Methodists, we don't just respond to the Christian community. By humanitarian standards, we're called to respond to all people."

Tom Hazelwood: "I've seen disaster after disaster, after disaster, major disaster and small disaster. And our church always responds. There's always resources to help the people. And it's so vitally important that they do that. And just to say thank you. Thank you so much for your continued support."


If you'd like to donate to the U.S. Disaster Relief Fund, Advance #901670, visit or call 1-800-554-8583.

Posted: July 15, 2011