UMCOR assists with 2018 hurricane recovery

The sanctuary of Lynn Haven United Methodist Church in Panama City, Fla., stands open to the sky following Hurricane Michael in October 2018.
The sanctuary of Lynn Haven United Methodist Church in Panama City, Fla., stands open to the sky following Hurricane Michael in October 2018.

A $4.6 million grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief allowed United Methodists in North Carolina and Alabama-West Florida affected hurricanes in 2018 to recover.

Alabama-West Florida Conference helped launch and fund the first two years of a phased four-year recovery program in response to Hurricane Michael.

Greg Ellis, UMCOR project manager for the grant, called it by far the biggest program in recent memory that this conference has done.”

Nearly $6.4 million has been allocated to the North Carolina Conference, where residents were left reeling last September from slow-moving wind and rain generated by Hurricane Florence. The storm’s impact affected nearly the entire state, including areas still recovering from Hurricane Matthew two years earlier.

Both grants were part of some $27.6 million in funds authorized April 11 by UMCOR’s board of directors for U.S. and international disaster response, sustainable development and global migration projects, and support for denominational hospitals and health boards through the Global Health unit.

While the Alabama-West Florida Conference has suffered through significant tornados and floods in the past, “they do have some new players that hadn’t managed at that level,” said Catherine G. Earl, UMCOR’s director of disaster response and U.S. partner relations. But they are leaning into those responsibilities “extraordinarily well,” she added.
“In disaster ministry, the conferences have to go from zero to 60 very quickly,” Earl explained. Along with resources, UMCOR provides guidance and flexibility from its own disaster recovery experience, so “we’re able to provide that sense of comfort to them.”

Hurricane Michael swept across a narrow band of the Florida panhandle on Oct. 12, leaving total destruction in some areas. Six of the 12 counties that are FEMA-eligible are in the Alabama-West Florida Conference, which has received additional support from the North Alabama and Florida conferences. Alabama-West Florida also will receive a separate $180,000 UMCOR grant for church repair.

excerpt from a story by Linda Bloom, assistant news editor for United Methodist News Service and is based in New York.

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.