Relief supplies, cleaning kits help after floods, hurricanes

After the devastating and deadly storms hit Albany last January, members of El Faro, a Hispanic United Methodist congregation in Albany, unload cleaning kits brought from the UMCOR network warehouse in Decatur, Ala.
1/22/2018

Revs. Alaina and Greg Harrison weren’t sure what to think when they arrived at Wesley United Methodist Church in Macon and saw hundreds of plastic five-gallon buckets stacked on the church’s fellowship hall stage.

Eager to start their new appointment, they quickly learned the church was a drop-off location for UMCOR cleaning kits. Assembled kits had begun being dropped off pretty regularly after last January’s winter storms in the Southwest and South Central districts, and they decided to more fully educate the congregation about their necessity and uses after floods and hurricanes.

“We started talking about (the cleaning kits) as a form of ministry,” Rev. Greg Harrison said. “We shared what we’re doing and why, and where all of this goes.” 

After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused such widespread damage, cleaning kits poured in from all over the conference. At least twice a week people drove from Columbus, Swainsboro, and elsewhere to deliver buckets.

The church has two sheds, and at one point both were packed so full of cleaning kits that church leaders began stacking them on the church’s fellowship hall stage. 

“We had stacks of buckets six feet high - taller than me - going across the stage in the fellowship hall,” Rev. Harrison said. “It’s been really cool and it’s been an exercise in flexibility, for sure!”

Rev. Harrison was able to share with the congregation his personal experiences working with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and using cleaning kits while on mission trips. He took a team to South Carolina after that state experienced historic flooding in 2015, and while there they used cleaning kits to muck out flooded homes. Cleaning kits are vitally important to the work done after storms and floods, he said. 

“Someone’s going to use this to unearth the interior of their house after it floods,” he said. “Someone’s going to use this to to clean the mold off the walls of their home. Volunteers are going to go into houses while the homeowners are still evacuated and they’re going to use these supplies so the homeowners don’t have to. 

“It was a very powerful moment to illustrate the strength of the connection and it was a moment to see how effective and good the connection is. It was exciting.”

The connection came through, too, for several congregations and individuals within the South Georgia Conference as cleaning kits from across the conference were assembled, sent out, and then came back and used in the conference to clean up after Hurricane Irma. Kits from the UMCOR warehouse in Decatur, Ala. were sent to Albany and used by members of El Faro, a Hispanic United Methodist congregation, after last January’s storms. 

“This past year the response for collections following Harvey, Irma, and Maria was phenomenal and required several trips to the UMCOR network warehouse in Decatur, Ala.,” said Allison Lindsey, Associate Director for the Office of Connectional Ministries. “When the January tornados hit, it was from this warehouse that 200 cleaning buckets were delivered within a day. I am so grateful for the local churches assembling relief supplies; for churches in the districts who facilitated regional drop-off locations; for Wesley UMC for their ministry as a Conference-wide central drop-off location; and for The Avants, members at Centerville UMC, who made several trips for us to deliver buckets into the network to be used where needed.” 

Interested in making a cleaning kit? It’s easy! Click here for information. Contact Rev. Greg Harrison at geharrison313@gmail.com to coordinate drop off.