UMCOR exec impressed by workers in Great Plains Conference

Photos show the aftermath of the flood damage in Columbus and Bellwood, Nebraska.
Photos show the aftermath of the flood damage in Columbus and Bellwood, Nebraska.

After two days touring the flood damage in Nebraska, UMCOR director of disaster response Cathy Earl said she was impressed with what the Great Plains Conference had already done.

“The conference has done a really good job of getting ahead of it,” Earl said Tuesday night. “You really have a deep desire to do all you can as a conference.”

Earl and Christy Smith, disaster response consultant for UMCOR, spent Monday and Tuesday in the Great Plains. They drove through Fremont and Inglewood looking at damage before meeting the Rev. Hollie Tapley, conference disaster response coordinator, in Columbus. They left early Wednesday morning to assess damage in Iowa.

Earl praised Columbus First UMC and its pastor, the Rev. Cindi Stewart, for the work they did immediately after the floods.

“They are just naturally living into their calling,” Earl said. “Because of what they’ve done, the work they’ve done becoming a part of the fabric of the community, they’re going to be leaders.”

Earl was also complimentary of the Rev. Bonnie Brock and her congregation at North Loup UMC.

“She’s amazing,” Earl said. “Although it’s a small community, they are helping out.”

Much of Earl’s praise came for the Great Plains staff member in charge of the relief operations.

“The conference is very well-prepared because you have Hollie Tapley in the role of disaster response coordinator,” Earl said. “She knows exactly what to do and how to get out in the community and work with the governments and the churches.

“Throw in some really responsive people in the mix, and you’ve got a good team,” Earl added.

Earl praised Tapley’s “ability to tap into a network of people in the area and across the country,” she said. “She gets it done without a lot of folderol.”

UMCOR gave the Great Plains a $10,000 solidarity grant not long after the mid-March flooding began, and Earl said more would be on the way.

“Hollie’s got her work cut out for her, as does this conference as you continue your assessment and decide the who, what, when and where,” Earl said.

Tapley said she was grateful for the money that had been donated to the flood relief effort -- $180,000 as of earlier this week – but said there still is a great need.

“We know it’s going to take more than what we have,” Tapley said. “We will be relying on UMCOR funding to continue the work that will be taking place for many years to come after all the disasters have been taking place.

Tapley said that roads in the Columbus area are slowly drying out, but many of them that are without water are slowly drying out, but many of them that are without water are slowly sinking.

excerpt of a story by David Burke,writer, Great Plains Annual Conference website

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