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South Georgia United Methodists respond to Dec. 17 storms

12/19/2019

Severe weather struck South Georgia Tuesday night, damaging homes, downing power lines, and destroying trees. Tornadoes were confirmed in Early, Irwin, and Miller Counties.

While officials are still assessing damages, the South Georgia Conference’s Disaster Response Team is 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.”

A couple of South Georgia ERT teams will be working Friday to help remove yard debris and trees from yards. No ERT teams are scheduled to work this weekend because of the weather forecast.

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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