Church presence brings help, hope to those affected by Hurricane Irma

9/18/2017


Rev. Andy Lamon, campus pastor of The Chapel Effingham, and several members of the congregation helped clean a Tybee Island home that was flooded by Hurricane Irma.

By Kara Witherow, Editor

Tricia Lewis carried sodden pillows to a growing pile of debris Friday afternoon, days after Hurricane Irma flooded her home with 18 inches of water.

“It’s just stuff,” said Lewis, whose house on Lewis Street on Tybee Island was also flooded just 11 months ago during Hurricane Matthew. “We’re a lot better off than a lot of people. Every day it gets better.”

A couch, a mattress, box springs, carpet, and drywall pieces were piled up on the curb outside waiting to be hauled away. Nearly every home on Lewis Street had some level of water damage and will need repairs.

Rev. Alex Tracy, pastor of Trinity Chapel United Methodist Church on Tybee Island, has known Lewis for years and has walked up and down Lewis Street twice a day each day since Hurricane Irma passed, checking on residents and assessing their needs.

“The church doesn’t have to get out but it means a lot,” Lewis said of Tracy’s presence. “I think it’s wonderful to know that people care.”

A few streets over Rev. Andy Lamon, campus pastor of The Chapel Effingham, Jodie Lamon, and several others from the church helped clean Becky and Chandler Kinsey’s home.

Members of Trinity Chapel UMC, the Kinsey’s house hadn’t flooded in 56 years but storm surge from Hurricane Irma sent more than two inches of water into the couple’s home, soaking floors, walls, furniture, books, and other possessions.

As she stood in the front yard, Jodie Lamon remembered dining in the same home 10 years ago when Rev. Lamon was appointed pastor of Trinity Chapel UMC. At the time, Chandler Kinsey was chairman of the church’s staff/parish relations committee and invited the couple to dinner.

“For us to come back and help them is very meaningful,” Jodie Lamon said. “To continue to have community and that connection is really special.”

The community was among the hardest hit in the conference and will need long-term help to recover, conference leaders say. Monetary donations to South Georgia’s Storm Recovery/Disaster Response fund and/or the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will help alleviate some financial burden. Early Response Teams will be needed in the area, as will flood buckets. 

“In the days to come there will be many ways for United Methodists to be in ministry through our Conference’s response to Irma,” said Allison Lindsey, associate director of Connectional Ministries. “The disaster phase after relief is often deemed ‘long-term recovery,’ and rightfully so. We will be working through ERT and volunteer teams as needs are assessed and will also be looking at areas where case management will be beneficial. I am thankful that several counties have been given FEMA declarations for public and individual assistance. This assistance will be a tremendous resource for those with damage, and faith-based organizations will be able to walk alongside these communities and individuals.”