UMCOR helps local partners respond to Hurricane Ian

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The team appearing in the photo (from left to right): Judy Ball, Christine Goding, Amarilis Ayala, Lara Martin and John Buzdygon.

For Release: Immediate

Media Contact:
Dan Curran for Global Ministries and UMCOR
[email protected]

October 10, 2022 | ATLANTE

Hurricane Ian, whose maximum sustained winds of 150 mph tied it to the fifth strongest hurricane on record to hit the United States, made landfall in Florida on September 28, 2022.

Prior to the hurricane’s arrival, UMCOR and its local partners used a pre-emptive approach to respond to the storm and recover. Staff were in close contact with conference disaster response coordinators in states where impact was expected and helped them plan their response.

When Ian hit Florida, the extent of the devastation wrought by this slow-moving storm quickly became apparent. The high winds, rain and punishing 18-foot storm surge caused severe flooding, demolished homes and businesses and killed more than 100 people.

A solidarity grant was immediately made to the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church to help them meet immediate needs and deploy supplies.

Ian’s destruction was not limited to one state. After moving through Florida, the storm moved up the coast causing even more damage in other southern mid-Atlantic and northern states.

As Ian progressed, UMCOR was there for local partners with support. Ian was the first hurricane to make landfall in South Carolina in nearly six years. Heavy rains, high winds and flooding along the state’s coast caused significant damage. A solidarity grant was quickly made available to the South Carolina Annual Conference to help them meet immediate needs, as much as they could.

Lara S. Martin, director of U.S. disaster response at UMCOR, traveled to Florida six days after the storm. While there, she met with conference leaders to express her support and share the message that United Methodists everywhere were praying for them.

At worst, Ian cut power to 2.6 million people. Even a week later, 200,000 homes still lacked power due to extensive damage to the state’s power grid.

Recognizing that mobile solar generators can mean the difference between life and death when hurricanes and other natural disasters strike, the Global Ministries Environmental Sustainability Program has worked with UMCOR staff to organize conference volunteers. annual meetings in Florida and North Carolina to learn how to build and install solar-powered generators that can be transported to disaster sites like those in Florida to help survivors communicate, work, store medicine and operate medical equipment at middle of a disaster. Rev. Jenny Phillips, Senior Technical Advisor for Environmental Sustainability, coordinated a two-day session in Florida with instructors from the Footprint Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to bring cleaner energy to communities in crisis.

In the coming days, UMCOR will work with conference disaster response coordinators and conference leaders in multiple states to determine next steps. For example, a consultant from UMCOR was assigned to work with the Florida Annual Conference to provide planning and logistical assistance. A program manager has begun working with this same conference on the development of a short-term relief grant while a long-term recovery program is being developed.

For South Carolina, UMCOR will assist in the development of long-term recovery grants.

Additional relief supplies will be shipped to both areas from UMCOR-affiliated warehouses.

Once authorities determine that storm areas can be safely entered, UMCOR will assist the Florida Conference in recruiting Early Response Teams (ERTs), individuals who have received specific training in the methods of disaster response and recovery.

With this year’s storms, UMCOR’s legacy of being “first in, last out” means United Methodists will be there to support the recovery of communities for years to come. Individuals and congregations wishing to support those affected by this disaster and others in the United States may replenish UMCOR relief supplies in consultation with local conference disaster response coordinators and by contacting local supply depots for deposit information. Provide financial support to UMCOR US Disaster Response by donating to Advance #901670.

Read more on https://www.umnews.org/en/news/hurricane-recovery-begins-in-florida.

Dan Curran is a communications consultant with Global Ministries and UMCOR.

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