Immediately following the work of early response teams, the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church installed a Disaster Recovery Team to enable families with financial difficulties to rebuild their homes to a safe and secure status from the disaster of the April 27 tornadoes. In order to assist the work already in motion, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Board of Directors approved a two-year $1 million recovery grant for the Conference’s efforts.
The $1 million grant issued by UMCOR will primarily assist at least 2,000 families return or relocate to safe and secure homes, but also will provide case management training and support for the Conference Disaster Recovery Team. Beneficiaries of the North Alabama Conference’s recovery work are usually single parents with children, low-income large families, disabled persons and elderly persons who are unable to financially recover from a disaster.
“In the midst of such tragedy, it gives us heart to know that God is with us through his people and through agencies such as UMCOR. We are so grateful for all the support we have received from UMCOR -- Tom Hazelwood, all the consultants. The staff has been available to us from the beginning. This significant grant will certainly help us make a difference in the lives of many people,” said Rev. Nancy Cole, North Alabama Conference Disaster Recovery Coordinator.
The North Alabama Conference initially received $150,000 from UMCOR for the spring storms to distribute among the five districts and seven worksites so far. On April 27, the National Weather Service reported 62 tornadoes, causing more than 20,000 square miles of damage amounting to an estimated $1.1 billion across the state. More than 23,000 homes were damaged or totally destroyed.
UMCOR provided initial funding to the North Alabama Conference immediately following the storms, as well as several Early Response Training sessions and Disaster Case Management Training sessions.
More than 70 early response teams traveled into North Alabama for clean-up following the tornadoes. Since then, 40 volunteer recovery teams have worked in a number of towns helping to rebuild within five districts in North Alabama: Northwest, Northeast, Mountain Lakes, Central and Southwest. Teams consisted of both local teams and out-of-state teams from across the country. At the time of the grant award, 86 additional are scheduled.
“As I have traveled throughout our Conference, I am heartbroken at the extent and severity of the damage, but I am so proud of the people and of our churches in the North Alabama Conference and their rapid and effective response. Through incredibly hard work and sacrificial giving, they have proven along with teams from across the nation the incredible value of our connectional relationships in the United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Will Willimon, Bishop of the North Alabama Conference.