How is the United Methodist Church present during a disaster? This is a question that many people have asked, and the answer is simple – YOU, THE LOCAL CHURCH, are present! The UMC has a local presence in nearly every community in the United States. This CONNECTION allows us to be present any time a need for response or recovery arises.
The prepared local church, working with and through the United Methodist Committee on Relief is one of the ways that we as United Methodists are present during a disaster. UMCOR responds to natural or civil disasters that are interruptions of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community’s ability to recover on its own. UMCOR’s work on behalf of United Methodists is global and includes countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean. UMCOR serves in long-term disaster recovery in the US.
When disaster strikes, the local church usually provides the first response. This basic understanding – that disaster response is local – helps form a foundation for UMCOR’s national training and response. First and foremost, UMCOR is a resource for the local response. Specific resources UMCOR provides include:
- Case Management
- Relief Supplies
UMCOR always works to enable those affected by disasters to take responsibility for relief and recovery work. Wherever possible, UMCOR forms partnerships with other religious and secular organizations to pool resources and avoid duplicating efforts. UMCOR provides long-term recovery as well as immediate relief. Recognizing that disasters cause disruptions that can last for years and often create permanent changes in people’s lives, UMCOR works within a community to address the long-term effects of a disaster and assist people in rebuilding and adjusting to change.
"...to provide a caring, Christian presence in the aftermath of a disaster."
Early Response Teams (ERT) fill a specific need in the early days after a disaster to establish the presence of the church. A disaster is any specific event that results in overwhelming physical, economic and/or emotional damage to a community. Early Response Teams are flexible so that they can respond to any disaster that may occur.
Early Response Teams…
- share the love of Christ in ways that make a Christian difference
- take steps to prevent further damage to property, by doing tasks such as tarping and cleaning out flooded homes
- are caring listeners who will help survivors begin to heal
- provide an opportunity for Christian service for those who want to give their time
Why do we need early response teams?
- disaster survivors are reassured that the church cares for them
- members of the local church and the community are able to see the church in action
- Early Response Teams provides immediate assistance to persons, who are usually older or disabled without a family support system nearby
- Early Response Teams provides immediate and quick response care for survivors
Deployment in the event of a disaster
- Within an affected annual conference, the Disaster Response Coordinator and Volunteers In Mission personnel will determine the need for ER trained teams
- The affected conference early response team coordinator, working under the conference response plan, will assign teams in appropriate locations in the disaster area
- The team leader (of the individual ERT) will contact the assigned location to get details and make arrangements, arrival times, etc.
- If the community needing the teams determines more teams are necessary, the volunteer coordinator will request them from the conference UMVIM coordinator
- Teams should plan time away from the area after 3 consecutive days work. Leaving the area provides relief from the stresses and also allows other ERTs to heed their calling to help. It will also help avoid a survivor developing a dependency on the volunteers
Each team must be self-sufficient and self-sustaining. As a team is making preparations, they need to keep in mind the need for basic necessities, such as food, fuel, water and sleeping gear, as well as debris removal equipment. An equipment trailer is recommended, but not necessary. The advantage of a trailer is that everything is together and ready to go in a short time. Galilee UMC currently has one equipment trailer available for use by our Early Response Teams.
The trailer is currently supplied with approximately 85% of what is recommended to adequately respond to a disaster. Below is a list of items still needed to complete the suggested equipment necessary to be fully self-sustaining. In addition, also listed is list of consumable supplies needed on a daily basis when responding to any disaster. Should you feel the calling to donate any of the items listed below please feel free to drop them by the church office anytime during business hours or during any Sunday Service.
- Cooking gear 1 set
- Plates, flatware, cups
- Dining canopy 11 x8
- Tent, 8 person, 3 Room Dome
- Water Coolers, 5 gallon
- Ice chest
- Power Washer
- Stepladder, 8’
- Tarps, 16’ x 20’
- Lath strip, pressure treated
- Nails, button cap 600
- Nails, Concrete Coated Sinker #5 box 20d or 16d 1
- Nails, Concrete Coated #5 box 8d 1
- Nails, Roofing #5 box 1
- Nails, Vinyl Coated Sinker #5 box 1
- Various Wire Nuts
Disaster Response Trailer Equipment List
Please use the online giving portal to make a financial contribution. Your contribution will be used to fund future trips as well as replace consumable supplies previously used during a disaster.
Simply follow the link below and be sure to add “ERT” in the “do you have any special requests” box to earmark your donation for ERT.
The ERT Team thanks you for your support!
UMCOR – Early Response Training
The United Methodist Committee on Relief offers Early Response Training certification for interested volunteers. Those receiving certification from the one-day course will be able to travel into affected areas after natural disasters in order to respond as needed. Two GUMC members currently lead training sessions.
ERTs respond in the wake of a disaster after first responders have completed their work. Typical deployments are 3-5 days and work can include clearing debris, making initial needs assessments, and working on damaged homes.
All skill levels are welcome!
For further information, please contact Rebecca Makowski at rebecca.makowski(at)galileeumc.org