For additional resources and information, click on these links:
For the latest information on how you can volunteer in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and South Georgia, click here.
Thank you for the many individuals and churches and groups that put together thousands of UMCOR relief kits in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Many people in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico are blessed by your generosity.
At this time, we are not collecting any additional kits until annual conference 2018. If you have some, please hold on to them in case your own community experiences a local emergency and they are needed, or until another widespread disaster occurs and they can be put to good use.
Thank you to all the many donations of relief kits and financial help. We have already sent thousands of health kits and cleaning buckets to Texas and Florida; the recipients are greatly blessed by your contributions. We have also collected over $445,000 that will be used for disaster recovery. Thank you!
If you have additional questions, please contact Rev. Rob Haynes at 251-270-2932 or email@example.com.
You can make monetary donations for all recent US disasters directly online to UMCOR by clicking here. Your church can also send donations to the Fiscal Office, 4719 Woodmere Blvd., Montgomery, AL 36106. Make the check payable to AWFC and note "UMCOR 901670" in the memo line. This same number will be used by UMCOR for those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria (in Puerto Rico) and the wildfires in the western US.
For disasters in international areas (earthquakes in Mexico, mudslides in Sierra Leone, hurricanes in the Caribbean, etc.), you can make monetary donations directly to UMCOR by clicking here. Your church can also send donations to the Fiscal Office, 4719 Woodmere Blvd., Montgomery, AL 36106. Make the check payable to AWFC and note "UMCOR 982450" in the memo line. This same number will be used by UMCOR for those affected by international disasters.
The best in-kind donations are the UMCOR relief kits. Click here for more information.
While Florida has not requested our volunteers yet, there are opportunities in Texas, Louisiana, and South Georgia. Click here for more information about how you can send a team to Texas or Louisiana. Click here for more information about how you can send a team to South Georgia.
UPDATE 9/12/2017: The Florida Conference is requesting cleaning buckets and hygiene kits - as many as we can spare. Thank you to the churches that have already put these together, and for those that will be putting them together in the next days. Our collection of these kits will continue through September 18. Click here for a list of collection sites.
SHOULD OUR CHURCH BE A SHELTER TO EVACUEES?
As Christians we are called to welcome the strangers in our midst, and to help those in need. The urge to provide assistance to those fleeing storms can be very tempting.
AWF Disaster Response Coordinator Amelia Fletcher states that a good option is to offer your facility through the Red Cross. The Red Cross is looking for churches to serve as shelters, particularly along the I-10 corridor. Their Chapter Center (222 N Baylen St, Pensacola, FL 850-432-7601) is providing free training for volunteers every day at 1:00 PM, from Sept. 7 – 9. In addition to training they will perform background checks, and register people as certified volunteers. The Red Cross can also help churches qualify as certified shelters. Such approved shelters are often eligible for financial assistance from federal or state emergency funds as well as for other types of support.
We have been hearing the term “Samaritan Shelter,” but have not been able to get a good definition of what this actually is. It seems to be a term for a place that just takes in evacuees and works to care for them as best they can. We strongly recommend that you think things through fully before deciding to be a “Samaritan Shelter.” This is not a simple matter of opening the doors to the fellowship hall and letting folks have a place to eat and sleep.
In the urgency of the moment it is tempting to take immediate action to address very real needs. We want all who have a heart for their fellow human beings to make decisions that are well informed and to be adequately prepared to carry through until the needs are fully met; these are complicated decisions that should not be made without planning ahead. Please also remember that there are many ways in which your church might serve evacuees without becoming a shelter (i.e., a resting place for volunteers, a staging site for supplies, etc.)
Please contact your District Superintendent for guidance and help in determining whether your church should be a shelter for disaster evacuees. Any decision to become a shelter MUST be approved by your District Superintendent.
UPDATE 9/6/2017: Due to Hurricane Irma and the threat that storm poses to Florida and other nearby conferences, we are extending the collection deadline to September 18. Our friends in those areas may also need donations. The same list of supplies will be collected as for Hurricane Harvey.
Thank you for the many responses we have received already from people who are willing to volunteer to help people in Texas (and soon Louisiana). We are in frequent contact with UMCOR personnel and the Disaster Response leadership of the conferences affected by Hurricane Harvey. Their disaster response remains in the emergency phase as they continue to rescue people, many roads are impassible, and first responders are still working hard. The local professionals and volunteers who are hard at work now will soon be exhausted and will be very grateful for second- and third-wave volunteers who can come in and provide relief. While they are asking us to not come just yet, they will be happy to see our fresh faces after more of the water has receded and they are better prepared to accommodate outsiders. The long-term recovery work will go on for many months and years so you have not missed your opportunity to provide assistance. Some areas are at least two weeks away from accepting outside volunteers.
If you would like to do active disaster response now, the Florida Annual Conference is still recovering from storms in 2016. Click here to learn how you can volunteer with them now. Louisiana is also still recovering from the flooding last year. Click here to learn how you can volunteer there now.
Please continue to pray for the conference leadership teams in the various conferences. You can pray for them by name:
8/28/2017: We thank you for your concern and the prayers you have already been offering for the people of Texas as they experience the destruction of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. Please continue to pray for the first responders, those whose homes are destroyed or damaged, and those whose lives will never be the same. Also pray for the congregations on the front lines as they respond to the current needs and the needs that will be there for months and years to come.
The next best way to help is to provide financial contributions which can be used to purchase appropriate and needed items quickly and locally. You can donate directly online to UMCOR by clicking here. Your church can also send donations to the Fiscal Office, 4719 Woodmere Blvd., Montgomery, AL 36106. Make the check payable to AWFC and note "UMCOR 901670" in the memo line. If you prefer donations be sent directly to the affected annual conferences in Texas instead, send those to the same address above with "Hurricane Harvey - Texas Disaster Response" in the memo line, also made payable to AWFC (or Alabama-West Florida Conference).