Severe weather struck South Georgia Tuesday, December 17, damaging homes, downing power lines, and destroying trees. Tornadoes were confirmed in Early, Irwin, and Miller Counties.
Even while officials were still assessing damages, the South Georgia Conference’s Disaster Response Team was on the ground, ready to help where needed.
“Tuesday's tornadoes were devastating,” said Disaster Response coordinator Luis Morales. “Damage like this is hard any time of the year, but just days before Christmas makes it so much harder.”
Susan Hughes, the South Central District disaster response coordinator, conducted a “windshield drive-by” Tuesday evening to assess damages and meet with survivors and county representatives. Early Response Team (ERT) members from Central United Methodist Church were out Wednesday morning, helping their neighbors. Other ERTs from across the South and North Georgia Conferences were placed on standby to deploy and assist, pending further damage assessments by local emergency managers.
“The hardest hit area was Ineva Circle, in Ocilla, and that’s where we’re doing most of our work,” Hughes said. “There’s a lot of damage, and our district and conference are doing a good job of seeing to the needs. We’re here and ready to help wherever we’re needed.”
South Georgia ERT teams have been working over the past several weeks to help remove yard debris and trees from yards.
Hughes stressed the importance of ERT teams and gave thanks for those who are spending their time serving.
“When you’re called, be ready to go, if at all possible. Know how important it is to say, ‘yes, I’ll be there,’” she said. “It’s such a blessing to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
The Conference’s Disaster Response Team, as part of its response as UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief), is also in contact with Georgia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Georgia VOAD), Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), and local emergency managers.
“I continue to tell people how grateful I am for the disaster response ministry of the South Georgia Conference and to all who work together to coordinate our disaster response,” said Bishop Lawson Bryan. “The members of our local churches really are the great strength of the South Georgia Conference. We see that strength on a daily basis as our church members continue serving others. I have seen that just this week as Luis Morales, Susan Hughes, and other disaster response coordinators found ways to immediately respond in the communities affected by Tuesday’s storms. I have seen that strength as the call was put out for trained Early Response Teams, and we now have teams on the ground providing relief in these communities. All of these faithful members have shown what it means to be Alive Together in Witness!”
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Upcoming ERT Trainings: Click here.
The South Georgia Conference Disaster Response Team continues to respond to those affected by Hurricane Michael. Thank you for your prayers and to the countless volunteers, ERT members, and others who have given of their time, talents, and finances to help those impacted by the storm. The work continues and we will be a presence as the work and healing continues.
Where: Decatur, Early, Miller, and Seminole Counties
Types of Needs: Tree removal and demolition; tearing out insulation and sheetrock; painting; carpentry, doors and floors.
Lodging Options: Currently housing teams at Friendship UMC for groups of up to 22 people and Faceville UMC for groups of 8 or less
Sending a Team: Contact Emory Smith (229-520-2542 or email@example.com)
Hurricane Michael Relief Coordinator: George Masciarelli (229-234-0572 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monetary gifts will be extremely important as we continue to respond to the affected areas. Special offerings to help with storm recovery needs may be sent to the South Georgia Conference Storm Relief efforts. Ways to give:
Thank you for helping respond to and support our response efforts here in South Georgia. We are already seeing incredible ways that our local churches are "Alive Together in Christ."
Watch a Disaster Response update and learn how your congregation can have the tools and info it needs to respond to disasters: https://vimeo.com/308822472
Donalsonville group repairs roofs, restores hope (11/18/19)
Residents in Donalsonville are giving thanks to God for His provision through the Blue Tarp Project of Seminole County, a non-profit organization that assists non-insured homeowners with needed roof repairs. Its goal is to remove every blue tarp from Seminole County, says Rev. Nate Lehman, who helped found the group.
“One roof at a time, we’re going to repair them,” said Rev. Lehman, pastor of Friendship United Methodist Church in Donalsonville. “We’re only at the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of roofs out there that still have tarps on them.”
A long-term recovery group founded by area churches and community leaders, the Blue Tarp Project of Seminole County is funded by donations. It operates in partnership with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which is working in southwest Georgia to coordinate long term recovery efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. While the Blue Tarp Project focuses on roofs, UMCOR focuses on repairing and restoring the interior of homes, said case manager Josh McElyea. Read more
Rev. Scott Stanfill reflects on Hurricane Michael one year later: 'We saw church happen...' (10/10/19)
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the worst storm many in Northwest Florida and Southwest Georgia have lived through and as Colquitt United Methodist Church (CUMC) still navigates the effects of the storms, Rev. Scott Stanfill, senior pastor of CUMC, shares his reflections. Read more
UMs, UMCOR still helping southwest Georgia recover (9/30/19)
United Methodists are known for being “the last to leave,” and in southwest Georgia, where Hurricane Michael swept through the area Oct. 10, 2018, as a devastating Category 3 storm, they’re still there, working to restore what was lost. Rev. George Masciarelli was recently hired as a Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Hurricane Michael, working specifically in the Southwest District to coordinate long term recovery efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. His position is a one-year recovery project and is funded through the connection by a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Working with him are Rev. Emory Smith, Volunteer Coordinator for Hurricane Michael; Neil Freeman, Job Site Coordinator for Hurricane Michael; Josh McElyea, Disaster Case Manager for Hurricane Michael; and volunteers Jeff Spicer and Paula LeCates. Read more
Church isn't a building: southwest Georgia congregations continue to serve communities (9/30/19)
Nearly one year after Hurricane Michael destroyed parts of southwest Georgia, blue tarps still dot the landscape. Trees are scattered throughout backyards, and some residents are living in hotels instead of their homes. Even now, 12 months later, you can’t drive 100 yards without seeing one of the emergency roof coverings or some other sign of the storm. Full recovery will take years, locals say. At a time when it would be natural for residents to focus on their own recovery, they’ve looked beyond themselves to serve one another, asking how they can be the church in the midst of crisis. Read more
South Georgia UMs still assisting in disaster recovery; Conference receives UMCOR grant (5/20/19)
When Hurricane Michael struck Southwest Georgia last October, it left a path of destruction and devastation that’s still being felt. But thanks to countless volunteers, case managers, organizations, and others, United Methodists in South Georgia are undertaking recovery efforts for those affected. Last month the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) also provided South Georgia with a $720,000 grant for Hurricane Michael recovery. The grant is part of some $27.6 million in funds authorized April 11 by UMCOR’s board of directors for U.S. and international disaster response, sustainable development and global migration projects, and support for denominational hospitals and health boards through the Global Health unit. Read more
Cleanup, recovery still happening in southwest Georgia (1/17/19)
A few weeks ago, Allison Lindsey, associate director of connectional ministries, was among a team of conference leaders who traveled to southwest Georgia to assess the ongoing Hurricane Michael recovery efforts and welcome North Georgia bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and a North Georgia Conference work team plus a South Georgia Conference work team, to the area. “There’s so much that has been done, but there’s still so much left to do,” she said in a disaster response video update. “The work doesn’t stop here. Read more
UMCOR school kits, church volunteers help students’ return to school (11/19/19)
Children returning to Seminole County’s schools Monday, Nov. 5 received a surprise when they sat at their desks. Not only were their schools – damaged by Hurricane Michael – repaired, but on each desk sat a bag full of needed school supplies. Early that morning, before school began, a team of volunteers from Friendship United Methodist Church descended on the schools. In a flurry of activity, they unpacked four pallets of boxes, hustled from room to room, placed one bag on each desk, and said a silent prayer over each, asking God to bless the students, the teachers, and the schools. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) sent the 1,200 school kits to Friendship UMC, said Rev. Lehman, so the county’s children could be prepared for their return to school after being out nearly a month after Hurricane Michael tore through southwest Georgia. The elementary school was heavily damaged in the storm and many children lost everything in their desks. Read more
Parish nurse serves storm-damaged community (11/19/19)
Debbie Weaver has never seen disaster like the kind Hurricane Michael wrought on the residents of her rural community. A parish nurse at Reynolds Chapel United Methodist Church, she’s used to blood pressure checks, teaching CPR, explaining medications, and the like. But Hurricane Michael, which nearly destroyed Donalsonville, also changed Weaver’s ministry and how she serves her patients. With more than 700 homes in the community, Weaver can’t visit each resident individually. After the storm passed and they could safely travel, she and another community nurse made visits by referral and triaged patients according to severity of need. Read more
Alive Together in Storm Recovery (11/5/18)
In the month since Hurricane Michael ripped through Southwest Georgia as a category 3 hurricane, the South Georgia Conference has experienced so many ways in which we are Alive Together in the World. Allison Lindsey, associate Director of Connectional Ministries, and Luis Morales, Disaster Response Coordinator, have been coordinating response efforts across South Georgia. Read more
Neighbors helping neighbors after hurricane (10/15/18)
Hurricane Michael brought 115 mph winds, downed trees and destroyed buildings throughout southwest Georgia. The Rev. Scott Stanfill, pastor of Colquitt United Methodist Church, said he sees God at work in how neighbors are extending a helping hand. Read story
Assessing Hurricane Michael damage in South Georgia (10/11/2018)
Many residents of Southwest Georgia are reeling today, their homes and communities damaged and devastated by Hurricane Michael. Hurricane Michael, which hit the area yesterday afternoon and evening after slamming into the Florida Panhandle, ravaged much of the area for hours. The wind was intense, uprooting trees, destroying buildings, and decimating crops. Hundreds of thousands are without power, and several counties are in a utility crisis, without power or water. Read more
South Georgia Conference Disaster Coordinator
Connectional Ministries Director