Conference Disaster Update, April 28, 2011


A word from Bishop Paul L. Leeland

"The state of Alabama, as well as the entire Southeast, is deeply hurting as a result of yesterday’s horrific storms. In a catastrophic situation such as this, we are no longer divided by religious affiliation or economic status, rather we are one body of believers struggling to move forward. First and foremost, the victims and their surrounding communities need prayers of comfort as they begin to put their lives back together. The staggering death toll reminds us how precious life is, and we lift up those families who have lost a loved one during this historic natural disaster. The Alabama-West Florida Conference is still assisting those communities damaged from the April 15th storms, and will expand our area of assistance as we are needed. We will be working with other conferences to help deploy assistance as we are called upon. Let us seek comfort in the Lord during this tragic time."

Bishop Paul L Leeland
Resident Bishop
Alabama-West Florida Conference

Volunteer and Donation Information
Amelia Fletcher, Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, participated in the state VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) conference call at 11am today. It is imperative at this moment that all volunteers be badged and previously trained. If you or your local church have a group of trained volunteers, please report to your district disaster response coordinator. Those names are below. Untrained volunteers may call 211 to register. They will notify you when your assistance is needed. 
Baypines District: Rev. Tim Trent
Demopolis District: Rev. Wilson Kendrick
Dothan District: Rev. Marcquis Wingard
Marianna-Panama City: Contact District Office
Montgomery-Prattville District: Dr. Chris Perry
Montgomery-Opelika District: Rev. Michael Lawler
Mobile District: Rev. Rob Gulledge
Pensacola District: Rev. Alan Gantzhorn

All volunteers must sign a release on the Web site. You may download it here. Also, all coordinators need to keep a log of how many volunteers are being deployed as well as how much time has been spent. This impacts disaster funding and must be accurate. 

Local churches can collect health kitscleaning kits, any size child and adult diapers and general personal hygiene products. Please no food or clothes. Gift cards to stores such as Wal-Mart, Dollar General or a local store for basic needs are helpful. 

The Bishop has invited churches within the conference to donate to a special fund for churches and victims of the storm. Churches wishing to donate should make checks payable to the Alabama-West Florida Conference and specify, “Tornado Disaster Response." Please send checks to the Alabama-West Florida Conference Treasurer.  

Social media has proven to be extremely valuable during this time of crisis. We strongly encourage you to follow our conference on Facebook for up-to-the-minute updates: Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. The North Alabama Conference also has a page that is frequently updated: North Alabama Conference of the UMC

Demopolis District Assessment, Rev. John Bonner, Demopolis District Superintendent
April 15 storms
No federal declaration of disaster has been forthcoming from the April 15 damage. In reality, that means no FEMA money to help in recovery. That will put a great responsibility on local areas and faith-based groups.

April 27 storms
Rev. Rob Gulledge has done some assessment and is making connections to help with repairs through the Washington Co EMA (emergency management agency).
Sawyerville (Jackson Chapel UMC, Rev. Abe Boykins, Pastor) has no damage to church but significant damage to houses and trailers. Search and rescue are working now. There have been 3 deaths of constituents at Jackson Chapel.
Mt. Hermon community, Hale County (Rev. Prentiss Taylor, Pastor) reports the loss of their smallest church building at Liberty UMC. Significant damage to houses along Hale Co. 29.  No loss of life has been reported, but injuries are present. 
Eoline Commuity (near Brent) in Bibb County reported as destroyed with 1 death. We are waiting to hear from Rev. Elaine Hagenbuch, who is pastor at Brent. She is looking into the rural churches south of town.
Edna Community in northern Choctaw County has damage. Search and rescue has just reached the area. The Pastor at Pelham UMC (Rev. Lyle Meador) is checking on residents and will let us know later in the day. He is safe. This area is vast, first responders were not able to get into the area until this morning.  
Chickasaw Park/Calvary north of Linden was hit again. It is hard to tell what is fresh damage and what is new damaged. Rev. Ray Basswill report as more information comes in.
Rev. Wilson Kendrick reports that the fresh damage in Geiger just undid the previous week’s work with some new loss of housing. 

Rubbermaid/plastic bins are needed in this area. 

Montgomery-Prattville District Assessment, Dr. Chris Perry, District Disaster Coordinator
April 27 storms
There has been incredible damage in the northern part of the Montgomery-Prattville District from the storms yesterday and last night.  Most of the damage at this time is in the Eclectic, Santuck and Dadeville areas.

The EMA will be set up at the Elmore County High School and begin processing volunteers right after lunch today. If you can help in any capacity (shelter, crisis, early response, chainsaw) please check in at the High School. They will only allow those with training and proper credentials to enter a clean-up zone. We desperately need shelter workers, crises workers and ERPs. If you are available to come immediately, please contact Dr. Chris Perry at 334-328-7021 or the Elmore County EMA. Also, those of you who have been through the chainsaw training, if you are able to go, contact Chris ASAP.
If you have not been trained and wish to help, Chris will hold an abbreviated training this Saturday, April 30, at Robinson Springs UMC in Millbrook from 8-12. Please keep in mind that most EMAs will not allow people to go into a disaster area without a badge from a sponsoring agency so if you want to be able to help, you must have this training. Generally, each church should have at least 7 people attend, which would constitute a team. You can also join with people from other churches if you know of those. Cost for the training is $23 which includes badge, manual, and t-shirt.

A Prayer Service has been scheduled tomorrow, April 29th, at 12:00 noon at Capitol Heights UMC, to lift up Alabama and all those that are dealing with the storms, loss of life, and damage that occurred last night. Capitol Heights, Dalraida & St. Luke United Methodist Churches are sponsoring this short service. All are welcome.

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