Assessing Hurricane Irma: September 12 Update

9/12/2017

The Conference Disaster Response Team is currently assessing how we as South Georgia United Methodists can be of assistance, both in our own conference and the Florida Conference, following the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. We were fortunate as we witnessed a significant downgrade in Irma before reaching South Georgia.

We ask pastors who have been impacted to contact their District Superintendent to let he or she know the condition of their community, church, and any immediate needs. The District Superintendent will then be in contact with the Conference Disaster Response team, who is coordinating our conference-wide response.

Initial reports across our conference include widespread power outages, trees/debris down and flooding along the coast. Please continue to use caution in your communities and listen to warnings and curfews for your safety and for the first responders.

We will be gathering damage assessments and mobilizing resources as needed throughout South Georgia in the days to come. Thank you for the many ways the connection continues to support the response.

As we continue to pray for those impacted by the storm, here’s what you need to know now:

Financial Donations: To aid with disasters within the South Georgia Annual Conference you can send financial gifts through the Conference Treasurer's Office earmarked Advance Special #6796 - South Georgia Storm Recovery (Disaster Response). The address is PO Box 13145 / Macon, Georgia 31208. Click here to donate online to the South Georgia Conference Storm Recovery effort. Financial gifts will make a significant impact on this disaster, future relief, and long-term recovery efforts.

Early Response Teams: We will be disseminating information as to if and when Early Response Teams are needed as soon as we can. These teams work in coordination with county Emergency Management officials and local disaster response groups. They will be activated as soon as it is necessary and safe to do so.

Relief Supplies: UMCOR hygiene kits and cleaning kits will be needed in the days, weeks and months ahead. This is a great way to have all ages of your church involved in outreach. Your church can collect and assemble these relief kits. Instructions for the various kits can be found at www.umcor.org. The following locations are drop-off locations for hygiene kits and cleaning kits through the end of September:

Wesley UMC in Macon (4256 Hartley Bridge Rd, Macon, GA 31216). Please call the church office, (478) 781-0332, to make arrangements before dropping off your items.

Christ UMC in Albany (505 Byron Plantation Rd, Albany, GA 31721). Please call the church office, (229) 436-3373, to make arrangements before dropping off your items.

Grace UMC in Vidalia (1200 Aimwell Road, Vidalia, GA  30474). Please call the church office, (912) 537-3973, to make arrangements before dropping off your items.

Park Avenue UMC in Valdosta (100 East Park Avenue, Valdosta, Georgia 31605). Please contact the church office, (229) 242-3562, to make arrangements before dropping off your items.

Instructions for these kits can be found at: www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies.

*Please note: We are only equipped to transport and distribute the requested items. If you know of individuals with access to trailers who would be willing to help transport collected items from the drop-off locations to Macon, please email Allison Lindsey at allison@sgaumc.com.

Early Response Team Trainings: We are in the process of scheduling additional Early Response Team trainings. If you are interested in hosting an ERT training for your area, please email Luis Morales at morhilll@gmail.com. We will disseminate information on where and when these trainings have been scheduled as soon as possible.

Keeping You Informed: We will continue to keep you updated through our website and Facebook page as assessments are made and invitations are given for outside ERT teams to come into these areas as needed.  

Churches Reaching Out: We can't begin to describe all of the amazing "ALIVE sightings" we have seen all across the conference and the connection during this time. Churches opening as shelters or providing a "rest stop" for those traveling the interstates; Wesleyan College opening their campus to families of students that have had to evacuate; relief kits being put together; our very own Methodist Children's Home South GA showing radical hospitality to The Florida United Methodist Children's Home; and now with the passing of the storm, churches and individuals gather to help neighbors with cleanup and response efforts within their neighborhoods and  communities.

We are so thankful for the ways our South Georgia United Methodists are ALIVE together in Christ. If you have a story to share where you have seen your church ALIVE together in Christ in the midst of Hurricane Irma, please send pictures and narrative to Kara Witherow, kara@sgaumc.com.

Join us in prayer for those who continue to be affected by this storm.