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$100K UMCOR Grant and GNJ Volunteers Restores Brick Community

When an unexpected summer flood in Ocean County left many low-income seniors homeless, the disaster relief team at Greater New Jersey Annual Conference went right to work.

The disaster began last Fall when a severe storm hit the New Jersey township of Brick and dumped eight inches of rain in a matter of hours. While storms happen often enough, this amount of rain is rare and the area does not normally experience flash flooding, so most were unprepared. Rainwaters and runoff from nearby creeks flooded the streets and by midday the governor had ordered the evacuation of more than 100 seniors from the Greenbriar senior community. The roads were under so much water that Brick police were only able to reach people by boat to get them to safety.

Led by Tom O'Hearn, GNJ's Disaster Relief Coordinator, United Methodist volunteers started working with Jersey Shore United throughout the fall. O'Hearn quickly realized more help was needed.

"A couple families seemed totally distraught, in a daze, and didn't know what to do," said O'Hearn who along with members of St. Paul's UMC in Brick, attended a session for families affected by the flooding two days after the storm.

Restoration work in progress in the Greenbriar neighborhood of Brick following unforeseen flooding. Courtesy Photo.

Working with Andrea Wren Hardin, a Hope Center Developer for A Future With Hope, he applied for and received a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) for GNJ to help Greenbriar survivors with the repair and winterization of their homes.

Your gifts on UMCOR Sunday helps support lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God's love with communities everywhere.

The $100,000 UMCOR grant covered building materials, appliances, and funds for licensed contractors to winterize 15 homes, including the cost of winterization supplies (baseboard heating units, exterior doors, HVAC materials, electrical panels and bathroom vanities and fixtures as needed), appliances include hot water heaters, electric stoves, and refrigerators, as well as labor costs for licensed electricians and plumbers.

When the waters receded and evacuees were able to return to their homes, they were greeted by destruction and wreckage. Floodwaters had gotten into more than 100 homes in the area, leaving them uninhabitable.

In an area that doesn't experience flooding, most Greenbriar homes did not have flood insurance of any kind. Requests sent to FEMA were denied and many were left wondering how their lives were ever going to go back to normal again.

Many GNJ congregations, including St. Paul's in Brick have volunteered to help and worked with Jersey Shore United who is coordinating most of the non-profit construction efforts at Greenbriar. On their first day of reconstruction, Jersey Shore United documented more than 280 volunteer hours and over $7000 in free labor.

"It's been a collaborative effort," said O'Hearn. Along with St. Paul's in Brick, Sparta UMC, Jackson UMC, St. Andrew's in Toms River, Hamilton UMC, and Atlantic Highlands Navesink UMC have brought teams to help bring families home.

Josh Kinney and Kamelia Ani, Greater New Jersey Annual Conference

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God's love with communities everywhere. The special offering underwrites UMCOR's "costs of doing business." This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs.

When you give generously on UMCOR Sunday, you make a difference in the lives of people who hurt. Give now.

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