Lee County Aftermath: How You Can Help

April 10, 2019
(Rev. Lisa Pierce) - We appreciate your love, support, and prayers over the past five weeks. It has been a whirlwind, as you can imagine. Below you will find an update on the progress being made in Lee County. 

We appreciate so very much the United Methodist connection coming together. Several churches in our area have been faithfully serving throughout Lee County including both Beauregard and Smiths Station. Auburn UMC, Cornerstone Church, Embrace Church, and FUMC Opelika have been sending a steady stream of groups and individuals. Trinity UMC of Opelika hosted Eight Days of Hope and spent a month with chainsaws and heavy debris removal equipment. Churches in Phenix City and Smiths Station, like Mt. Zion UMC, staged for volunteer groups and prepared lunches. Pierce Chapel and Wesley Chapel UMC served as a staging ground for supplies and meetings. Recently, St. James UMC (Montgomery) travelled to help with more chain saw and debris removal. There are others who have helped that we are not even tracking because the outpouring of help and support has been so overwhelming. So, thank you!

Alabama Rural Ministry (ARM) hosted a father and son team from Michigan, an individual volunteer from Indiana, and currently has a team of 16 from Tuscaloosa running chainsaw teams. Every Friday and Saturday at our office at Pepperell UMC, we set up as a gathering center for groups desiring to serve from the local community. 

ARM has established an additional team dedicated to the long-term recovery response. Our team consists of Rev. Katrina Love who is from Beauregard and serves as a case manager, Ms. Allison Porter who is a Young Life leader in Beauregard and also serves as a case manager, Mr. Joseph Farris who is our construction coordinator, and Mr. Andrew Baird who is our volunteer reception coordinator. They have hit the ground running hosting volunteers, continuing clean up efforts, and coordinating for the long-term recovery process. I am grateful for their leadership. 

ARM is part of the long-term recovery effort called MEND. Rev. Laura Eason, a United Methodist deacon, and the chaplain for East Alabama Medical Center, is the main coordinator for MEND. ARM is leading the team responsible for planning and coordinating the rebuilding, reconstruction, and repair of homes destroyed and damaged in Lee County. We are meeting with several home building groups, AU Building Science/Architecture, and other home repair groups. ARM is also being asked coordinate volunteer opportunities throughout the community.

Here are ways your church can help:
1) Schedule to bring a summer work team: Our summer is still very structured and we can host teams that arrive on Sunday and depart Friday morning for a cost of $195/person which covers all of your expenses. If this schedule does not work, we have some other options. You can see these options at www.arm-al.org/summermissions or email Andrew Baird at Andrew@arm-al.org.

2) For those within the Opelika/Auburn area: There are several teams to help with long term recovery, aka MEND. This includes grief counseling, legal support, financial counseling, home repair and more. Click here for an overview of these teams and a form to fill out to be part of MEND. Please consider getting this out to your churches and see if individuals would like to join these groups.

3) ARM continues sending groups out on Fridays and Saturdays and will do that through April except Easter weekend. Groups can also serve at the Distribution Warehouse. If you would like to serve contact Andrew@arm-al.org or sign up on this form www.arm-al.org/tornadoregistration.

Thank you for the many ways you have blessed this community. We need your help, love and prayers.