United Methodist Churches and teams are responding to Sunday's tornadoes that have affected many counties in south Mississippi, according to the Rev. Wayne Napier, Mississippi Conference Disaster Response Coordinator.
An invitation has now been issued to United Methodist Early Response Teams that are certified to assist with the work that is already well in progress by local churches. These outside teams must be self-sufficient and coordinated through the following hubs; Petal First UMC, Asbury UMC, and Columbia First UMC.
In the Petal, MS area,(Forrest County) Rev. Jonathan Wallace, pastor at First UMC of Petal, and Rev. Andy Stoddard, pastor of Asbury UMC, are coordinating the work in that area. These two congregations have places to send Early Response Teams starting Thursday, February 14.
Rev. Stoddard said there is also a need for persons who speak Spanish. There are a number of Hispanic communities that have been affected by the storms. Volunteers who have the ability to speak Spanish are needed.
The Rev. Keith Gaughf, pastor at First UMC of Columbia is coordinating the work in and around the Marion County area.
The work in Hattiesburg is still hampered by debris-filled roads. As of February 14, the long-term response locations had not been identified because the preliminary assessments are inconclusive.