Albany Area Storms Recovery Efforts

Since January, the Conference has coordinated 52 work teams accumulating over 2900 hours in the areas affected by Hurricane Matthew and those in the path of the January streamline winds and tornados across the Southwest and South Central Districts. We know there are countless hours of service through individuals and churches that we are not aware of at this time.

Through individuals and local church donations, we received over 1000 health kits, over 200 cleaning buckets as well as bedding kits and school kits. Thank you for offering hope in such a tangible way to the survivors.

Right now case management, through our Conference's partnership with UMCOR, continues in the Albany area. Mr. Ed Haggerty, member of Avalon UMC, is serving as our liaison with the Albany Relief + Recovery group. 


Recap: South Georgia Winter Storms

On January 22 devastating storms ripped through South Georgia, leaving death and destruction in their wake. The most affected areas of the South Georgia Conference were the South Central and Southwest Districts. Earlier that same month, the same areas in the Southwest District were slammed by straight-line winds and tornadoes. While many were still cleaning up from that storm, they were faced yet again with more rain, winds, and flooding. Below are various emails and articles that were sent out regarding the South Georgia Winer Storms. 

Disaster Response Emails
Disaster Response Update: January 27, 2017
Disaster Response Update: January 23, 2017

Emails from Bishop Bryan
Alive Together in Christ as we bear one another's burdens
The United Methodist Church is at work

Articles
United Methodists work to bring relief, hope to storm victims
Deadly storm damages Zoar UMC
UM Churches Connecting through disaster

Photos
Click here to view photos of United Methodists at work

Financial Donations
Financial Donations and special offerings to continue helping with storm recovery needs may be sent to the South Georgia Conference Storm Recovery efforts. Ways to give:

  1. Give through your local church to the Georgia Storm Recovery Fund - Advance Special #6796. Your local church will then send the money to the Administrative Services Office.
  2. Mail a check to the Administrative Services Office. Please use Conference Advance Special #6796. (Address: PO Box 13145, Macon, GA 31208)
  3. Online donation: Click here to donate online to the South Georgia Conference Storm Recovery effort

Vital Signs

While we know this is not an all-encompassing list, below are glimpses of ways we have seen the church and its people Alive Together in Christ amidst the storms. 

  • Using donated gift cards that have come in from church members all across the connection, Albany First volunteers have been able to purchase new school uniforms, shoes, and backpacks for the children at El Faro, to replace what was lost in the storm. The children are set to return to school on Monday.
  • 7 work teams with more than 100 volunteers will be spread out across work sites in Albany on Saturday.
  • In an interview with a Spanish television station out of Atlanta, Heraldo Vicente was asked what if felt like to be heralded as a hero after saving the lives of his church members by getting them safely to the church before the storm. His response? “Jesus is the hero.”  
  • Lyons UMC and Vidalia UMC worked together to clean debris from around Zoar UMC and assist with damage to the church sanctuary
  • 250 UMCOR buckets are en route to Albany and Adel from the UMCOR warehouse in Decatur, Ala.
  • Lay volunteer Luis Morales, member of Centerville UMC and Conference Disaster Coordinator, has been invaluable as he has worked with local officials in affected counties to coordinate our volunteer teams. 
  • Even amid their own displacement, El Faro will host a Community Outreach Day Saturday to meet needs in their community. They will give out clothing, food, cleaning buckets, health kits and Bibles.
  • Christ United Methodist Church held a candlelight prayer vigil on Wednesday evening
  • On Thursday evening, El Faro and several members of Albany First held a joint prayer service to gather and reflect on the past several days.
  • Porterfield UMC continues to prepare meals for first responders and work teams, and provide Loads of Love laundry services for those displaced by the storm.
  • Several South Georgia United Methodist pastors who also serve as Office of Homeland Security Chaplains were in Albany on Wednesday to help provide support to first responders. 
  • Health kits are being prepared by South Georgia United Methodists and are being dropped off at locations across the conference.

Porterfield UMC provided El Faro members with large tubs to transport their laundry to and from the Loads of Love laundry ministry. They were also used to transport their bedding and clothing from Albany First UMC back to El Faro. 

 
Laura Haygood talks to Daniel Medina and a volunteer outside El Faro Thursday.

Albany First UMC continues to be in ministry with El Faro UMC, an Hispanic congregation in Albany. All members of the El Faro congregation were impacted by the storms in some way, and four families lost everything, including their homes and vehicles. {See drone footage of Paradise Valley, one of the trailer parks that was devastated in the storm. Video provided by Brasil, one of the men who stayed at the shelter at Albany First.}

After housing members of El Faro for three nights in their church gym, Albany First members helped move the families back into their own church building after someone generously donated a generator to the church. Heraldo Vicente, lay pastor of El Faro, and volunteers from Albany First UMC have helped make the transition from one shelter to another as seamless as possible. Port-a-potties and storage units were delivered to El Faro on Thursday along with the conference’s shower trailer, which had been stationed in Baton Rouge, La. following the 2016 floods.

Conference officials, including Bishop Lawson Bryan, Dr. Nita Crump, and other Cabinet members, met with several Albany United Methodist pastors to tour the area and talk through next steps of our disaster response. UMCOR U.S. Disaster Response Coordinator Cathy Earl, along with Luis Morales and Allison Lindsey, South Georgia Conference Disaster Response Coordinators, were on site and have been heavily involved in relief efforts. L to R: Luis Morales, Allison Lindsey, Bishop Bryan, Heraldo Vicente, Cathy Earl