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UMCOR Hurricane Response Points to the Power of Local Partnership

When disaster occurs – whether it is a hurricane, tornado, wildfire or other natural or human-made calamity – the United Methodist Committee on Relief is there to help people recover from the catastrophe and put their lives back together.

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.

As the humanitarian relief and development arm of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR partners with annual conferences to train volunteers from local congregations to be disaster responders and then provides grants for direct support, goods or services to survivors.

In 2018, Hurricane Florence caused catastrophic flooding in portions of South Carolina and North Carolina during the Atlantic hurricane season. A month after Florence, Hurricane Michael, the strongest hurricane on record to strike the Florida Panhandle, caused catastrophic damage to Florida before raging through Georgia, South Carolina and parts of North Carolina. Three devastating major hurricanes made landfall in 2017 – Harvey in Texas; Irma in the Caribbean and southeastern U.S.; and Maria in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico.

Through an UMCOR solidarity grant, a generator for a shower trailer was provided for those affected by Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle. Pictured are Rev. Durwood Foshee (center) and Pam Garrison (left).  Credit: Cathy Earl.

Cathy Earl, director of disaster response and U.S. partner relations for UMCOR, said The UMC's response to disasters like hurricanes begins before the events occur. "We were in touch with the conference disaster response coordinators, who are our primary contacts in disaster readiness and response," Earl said. "They have already been trained and supported, and they know where their assets are around the conference."

DRCs from other U.S. conferences across the connection participated in UMCOR conference calls to learn what the anticipated needs would be. After the disasters occurred, the conferences in the Carolinas already knew whom to contact in their neighboring conferences and elsewhere for help.

Neighbor-to-neighbor checks begin following a hurricane landfall, and specialized early response groups called Volunteers in Mission teams are deployed to assist anyone who needs help, not just United Methodists. The VIM teams, comprised of volunteers who are trained, background-checked and badged by UMCOR, remove debris, place tarps on roofs and secure homes from further damage.

The financial support UMCOR receives from United Methodists goes a long way toward providing relief during disasters. "Because of the trust that the people of The United Methodist Church have in us, we are positioned to help address needs, both large and small," Earl said.

"The best way that we can show our faith and show the love of Christ is to be proactive about it and develop plans, strategies and resources ahead of time," Brodie said.

Tom Gillem, freelance writer for Global Ministries.

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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