The Church’s Role in Disaster Relief

September 20, 2018

As catastrophic flooding hits North Carolina, South Carolina, and parts of Virginia, our hearts are filled with grief. We pray for our friends and neighbors. We stand ready to help.  

As United Methodists, we know disaster response. UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, is one of the major disaster response agencies in the country and around the world. Many of us here at Galilee have undergone training with the Early Response Teams, which help with clean-up and rebuilding in devastated areas.  We’ve gotten our hands dirty helping to clean up from floods, hurricanes, and storms from New York to New Orleans.

We’ll have a role to play in the clean up of Florence, too.

There are three stages of reaction to a disaster: rescue, response, recovery.

– Rescue. Florence is still dangerous. Southeast North Carolina remains in a crisis stage. Authorities are reaching people who need rescuing. Only trained professionals have any business travelling to a disaster area at this time. As it happens, members of our congregation will be be helping through their government and military jobs and connections.

– Response. As the emergency recedes, we move into the response phase. That’s when trained people are able to get to affected areas to assess the situation and begin clean-up, while helping victims with immediate needs.

– Recovery. Recovery is the long-term phase, after the cameras are gone. Recovery is the time when Galilee joins the efforts of helping people rebuild and rehabilitate from emotional, spiritual, and physical losses. As United Methodists, we like to say that we’re the first ones to a disaster zone and the last ones to leave.

There are some great ideas for taking action in the early days of a disaster (send money to an accredited disaster relief service, like UMCOR). There are also bad ideas. Do not send goods, as in the short term sending unsolicited goods will cause a logistical nightmare. UMCOR will let us know when we need to send emergency items like cleaning buckets, etc. We have 30,000 flood buckets in a warehouse ready to go.

Please join us in prayer for the people of North Carolina and the surrounding states who are suffering acutely. Pray for first responders as the rescues continue, 24/7. Be ready to join in the recovery efforts to help for the long-term in the months and years to come.

For more information on how our denomination is helping, click umcor.org.