Disaster Response Update: Hurricane Response - Updated September 19

August 28, 2017

Sept. 19, 2017

From your Conference Disaster Response and Recovery Team:

The South Georgia Annual Conference is requesting Early Response Teams (ERT) in the coastal areas of the state. Here is the request:

Although Hurricane Irma was a tropical storm when it hit Georgia, it left its worst impact in Coastal Georgia.  The South Georgia Conference is looking for current ERTs and trained chainsaw teams to help in Chatham and other coastal counties.

Lodging can be arranged in local churches; however, teams may need to cook their own meals, or use local restaurants.

Interested teams should contact South Georgia Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Luis Morales at morhilll@gmail.com.

In His Grace,
Randy Burbank
Disaster Response Coordinator for the North Alabama Annual Conference
Email: rburbank@umcna.org


Sept. 12, 2017

From your Conference Disaster Response and Recovery Team:

We have been receiving a lot of questions about our mission with the evacuees from Irma. I want to offer you and your congregation the following ideas and strong suggestions:

  1. Do not accept as "Gospel Truth" everything you may see on social media. Good intentions that come from our heartache of "stories" seen on social media can create problems for agencies assisting evacuees and disappointment for those who genuinely want to help. With disappointment comes discouragement and we lose a valuable resource "the next time."
  2. Sign up for our Disaster Response Updates at www.umcna.org/disasterresponsesignup so that you will receive the latest information by email as it becomes available.
  3. In addition to our email updates, sign-up for NAC-NAV, our text communication platform, by texting the word NACNAV to 256-414-8358. The advantage of NAC-NAV is that if a disaster impacts your community, you can share vital information with our Conference Disaster Response Team.
  4. If your congregation would like to assist the evacuees, then register your church with with Alabama 211. Anyone needing any type of assistance can dial 211, enter their location and will be connnected with a 211 Operator who will assist them. Visit their website at www.211connectsalabama.org and click on the "For Service Providers" and fill out the requested information. One thing that may be needed is prepaid "Visa/MasterCard/ debit-cards" for fuel expenses on their return home. Evacuees requesting fuel assistance are being referred to 211. Some evacuees are already returning home. You can also list with Alabama 211 any other services and resources your church provides that are related with your ministry to the poor. You would only be contacted for evacuees in your area.
  5. In long-term planning, consider becoming a temporary evacuee center. Though Red Cross has a process, we would like to work with you so that you would not have to rely on Red Cross in order to respond to the immediate needs of evacuees.

I regret to say that your Disaster Response and Recovery Task Team did not address the issue of evacuees in our new Disaster Response Plan adopted during the 2017 Annual Conference. We will be addressing this need in the near future.

And again, thank you so much for being the presence of Jesus bringing hope to those who are losing or may have lost hope.

In His Grace,
Randy Burbank
Disaster Response Coordinator for the North Alabama Annual Conference
Email: rburbank@umcna.org


Sept. 11, 2017

From your Conference Disaster Response and Recovery Team:

The Louisiana Conference is now scheduling trained and badged Early Response Teams (ERT) for Hurricane Harvey response. All ERTs should go to  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UMCVolunteerRegistration to register.

The Texas Annual Conference is also ready to receive volunteer teams to assist with Hurricane Harvey response.

The work consists mainly of cleaning out flooded homes and requires extensive physical labor. We would prefer that at least one member of your team be ERT trained. Teams should bring their own protective gear and tools. All members need proof of Safe Sanctuary training and clear background check from your local United Methodist Church. You will be housed at a host church in the conference.

Team leaders can register their team at http://www.txcumc.org/newsdetail/disaster-volunteer-team-registration-9275846 or go to the Texas Conference website at txcumc.org and click on "Disaster Volunteer Team Registration."


Urgent Needs at United Methodist Disaster Warehouse

The United Methodist Disaster Warehouse in Decatur urgently needs wooden clothes pins!  They are completely out.  These are hard to find and the Warehouse needs between 2,000-4,000 packs.  As you located and purchase them, please call the Warehouse at 256-341-9961. Volunteers are keeping a rolling count.

Also, there is now a growing need for tornado buckets due to the tornadoes on the outer bands of Hurricane Irma. Please encourage your church group to help purchase and compile some tornado buckets. Any and all help is appreciated!

Tornado Bucket

  • 1 large medicine bottle of 8 penny nails
  • 1 claw hammer [for tarping roof]
  • 1 pair leather palm-cloth backs gloves [used for debris cleanup]
  • 1 magic marker [to mark boxes]
  • 1 roll wide cellophane tape [for boxes]
  • 15 large black trash bags with drawstrings [for trash]
  • 10 white 13 gallon kitchen trash bags with drawstrings [for salvageable items]
  • 10 gallon zip lock bags [for small salvageable items]
  • 1 box cutter
  • 1 roll of toilet tissue in a zip lock bag
  • 1 pair safety glasses
  • 6 large clear plastic bags [to cover blown out windows]
  • 1 pencil, shirt-pocket size notebook & pencil sharpener [for notes and family to do lists]
  • 3 tampons or sanitary pads in a snack size zip lock bag
  • 1 flashlight and separate batteries (appropriate number and size for flashlight)
  • 1 insect repellant
  • Self-addressed postage paid envelope in the bucket for a thank you note coming back to you.  Place in this bucket.

 Tape the list of contents on the side of the bucket so people will know what is in it! Deliver your compiled buckets to the United Methodist Disaster Response Warehouse at 3220 Hwy 31 South, Building F, Decatur, AL 35603. Please call 256-341-9961 before making your delivery to alert volunteers of the incoming supplies.


Sept. 7, 2017

From your Conference Disaster Response and Recovery Team:

One of the great needs in both the immediate aftermath of a disaster and for the long term recovery efforts is a Shower and Laundry Trailer. An earlier email shared this need. Scott McGee, a layperson from Vestavia Hills UMC (Central District), has assembled a team to make it happen.  It will cost somewhere between $20,000 to $25,000. They have already procured a trailer.

Here's where you can help. A special fund has been established with the Conference Office of the Treasurer (thanks Johnny Frazier!) for this project. The name of the fund is: Disaster Response Equipment Fund.  You, your church or church groups may donate to this fund. Make your checks payable to the North Alabama Conference UMC and mark them for Disaster Response Equipment Fund. Mail your donations to North Alabama Conference 898 Arkadelphia Road Birmingham, AL 35204. Any funds not used on this trailer will be used for the next project. Watch early next week for dates and locations of upcoming training events.

In His Grace,
Randy Burbank
Disaster Response Coordinator for the North Alabama Annual Conference
Email: rburbank@umcna.org

Sept. 5, 2017

From your Conference Disaster Response and Recovery Team:

Here is the latest updates for responding to Harvey.

ONLY the Rio Texas Conference is receiving volunteers from outside their conference.  For more information and to register visit their website at https://riotexas.org/disaster-response and fill out the appropriate forms. The Louisiana Conference and Texas Conference (which covers the Houston area) are not receiving volunteers from outside of their conference. We will advise you when the invitation is sent from these two additional Annual Conferences.

In the area of Disaster Response Supplies, the Northwest District Disaster Response Warehouse is already shipping directly to the impacted areas.  Supplies are continuing to flow into the Decatur Warehouse.  In addition to supplies for the UMCOR kits (information for the kits are found at http://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies) we are collecting the following items ONLY:

  • Square Head Shovels, preferably the long handle
  • Grain Scoop Shovels
  • Garden Rakes, not leaf rakes
  • 1 Gallon Garden Sprayers
  • Wheelbarrows, the type with 2 front wheels
  • Fans
  • 25 ft. med. to heavy duty extension cords
  • Plastic cap nails, the type used to hold down tar paper on roofs

We also are seeking Volunteers to Work at the Disaster Response Warehouse.  Contact the Warehouse at 256-642-1759. Teams can be scheduled for Saturdays, but please call to schedule a day and time.

As always, you can help by giving "Green"! This means cash. We encourage each congregation of the North Alabama Conference to designate a Sunday to receive a special offering for UMCOR U.S. Disaster Response. Church treasurers can send donations to the Office of North Alabama Conference Treasurer, designate checks to UMCOR ADVANCE #901670

Some have asked if their churches can become Collection Centers for supplies. The answer is YES! But please remember to collect only the above requested supplies. DO NOT COLLECT WATER, FOOD OR CLOTHES.

As the needs change we will update you.

Please note that Harvey is not the only disaster we are working on.  Hurricane Irma is now a Category 5 Hurricane and appears to be taking aim at our next door neighbor Florida. By gathering supplies now we are able to respond to Texas and Louisiana, and be ready to assist Florida (and/or other areas) impacted by Irma. Pray, pray and pray some more!

Here is an update on our previous appeal for shower/laundry trailers. One group is moving forward quickly to get one built. Another group is taking steps to build one also.  And this morning I received a phone call asking if we would be will to take possession of a 40 foot trailer set up with bunks, shower and a kitchen. Of course I said an excited YES!

If you and your group would like to take on such a project but are concerned that you would not get it finished in time for the survivors of Harvey, remember that there will be more disasters in the future where we will be called upon again to be the heart, hands and feet of Jesus.

I am grateful to be a part of this great Annual Conference that responds with open hearts and hands. And most of all, I am grateful that together we serve the Mighty and Awesome God!

In His Grace,
Randy Burbank
Disaster Response and Recovery Coordinator for the North Alabama Annual Conference
Email: rburbank@umcna.org

August 30, 2017

From your Conference Disaster Response and Recovery Team:

Yesterday evening I was on a Conference Call with the Texas, Rio Texas and Louisiana Conferences.

At this time ONLY the Rio Texas Conference is receiving Early Response Teams current in their ERT Training. Go to their website at www.riotexas.org to register. Please be patient in their response time. They are doing their very best. The needs in the Rio Texas area are Chainsaw Teams, heavy debris removal and 7.5 KW generators and 10 KW generators. You can also give directly to the Rio Texas efforts at https://riotexas.org/harvey.

The Texas Conference, which includes the Houston area, is at least two weeks from being ready for outside teams. Their Warehouse has been able to supply cleaning buckets and kits to the few areas where they can get into.

The Louisiana Conference is still receiving information. They are dealing with their own displaced persons as well as those displaced from Texas.

Any Disaster Response Kits you put together please bring them to our U.M. Disaster Response Warehouse in Decatur (3220 Hwy 31 South, Building F, Decatur, AL 35603). Please call ahead to arrange a time to drop off your donations. Our volunteers at the Warehouse are very busy and will not be able to travel to your location to pick donations up. You may also volunteer to help at the Warehouse. The contact number for the Warehouse is 256-341-9961.

Thanks to a response for the request for a shower/laundry trailer. We can still use more. These will be loaned to a requesting conference and returned to us after it is no longer needed.

Continue to pray and remember that green is always appropriate. Send your checks to The Office of Conference Treasurer 898 Arkadelphia Rd. Birmingham, AL 35204 and earmark it DISASTER RESPONSE. You can also give directly to UMCOR online at http://www.umcor.org/give The UMCOR funds you can give directly to are:

  • For Disaster Supplies needed for Kits:  Advance #901440
  • For Disaster Assistance for Survivors:  Advance #901670

Please be patience because in some areas this is being called an 800 Year Event and in other areas is it being called a Million Year Event

WHEN the time comes, we will be needing appropriate trucks and drivers to deliver needed supplies as the requests come to us. Contact the Disaster Response Warehouse if you can assist.

In His Grace,
Randy Burbank
Disaster Response Coordinator for the North Alabama Annual Conference

August 29, 2017

From your Conference Disaster Response and Recovery Team:

Below is the email from Audrey Phelps, South Central Jurisdictional UMVIM Coordinator, requesting currently certified Early Response Teams (ERT) in the Rio Texas Conference.


The Rio Texas Conference is asking for ERT's. Only currently certified ERT members are being accepted.

Teams will base out of Corpus Christi and should register at https://riotexas.org/ert-volunteer-team-registration.

ERT trained individuals/small groups not part of a team should register at https://riotexas.org/ert-individual-and-small-group-signup.

Current needs include debris removal of down trees, and roof tarping. Many homes have water damage from damaged windows and roofs.

Please send this invite to all of your currently certified ERT trained persons!


Audrey J. Phelps
Director of VIM & Disaster Response
South Central Jurisdiction

Remember... The best immediate response for your entire congregation is to receive an offering for Disaster Response. Send your checks to The Office of Conference Treasurer, 898 Arkadelphia Rd. Birmingham, AL 35204 and earmark it DISASTER RESPONSE. You can also give directly to UMCOR online at this site.

From the Disaster Response Warehouse in Decatur

The United Methodist Disaster Relief Warehouse is responding to Hurricane Harvey.

Executive Director of the United Methodist Disaster Warehouse Rev. Ray Crump says, “On Tuesday, August 22, we shipped 30 skids of disaster supplies to pre-position them for Hurricane Harvey response.  Now we are working on equipment for those people in their battle in HOT August with mildew and mold. We hope to ship our second truck load on Friday or as soon as the Texas Conference has their staging area open."

The warehouse is collecting and sending the following supplies:

  • Box Fans (to dry out houses following flooding)
  • 25’ heavy duty extension cords (to move the fans around inside homes)
  • 2 & 3  gallon garden sprayers (to fight mildew and mold)
  • Flat billed shovels (for removal of mud, wet carpet, pads, sheet rock, insulation, etc.)
  • Rakes (for removal of tree limbs, leaves and muck from inside home and yards)
  • Wheel barrows (2 wheeled, so they will not turn taking debris to the street)
  • White Kitchen 13 gallon trash can liners (for items to be salvaged)
  • Black Magic Markers to write on white trash can liners (to label contents)
  • 40 – 50 gallon heavy duty Black trash can liners (for trash)

You can purchase these supplies and deliver them to the United Methodist Disaster Response Warehouse at 3220 Hwy 31 South, Building F, Decatur, AL 35603. Please call before making your delivery to alert volunteers of the incoming supplies.

You can also mail a financial donation to purchase these supplies to U. M. Disaster Relief Warehouse, P.O. Box 1133, Decatur, AL 35602.


August 28, 2017

From your Conference Disaster Response and Recovery Team:

There is a lot of concern and heartache for those in Texas who have been and continue to be impacted by Hurricane Harvey and I know you are wanting to know how you can help. This morning Catherine Earl of UMCOR called me about the needs for those impacted by Harvey and how we can best respond.

Here are the most immediate needs:

  1. Prayers are needed for the Emergency Workers. They are still in the Emergency Phase of this disaster which means no ERTs at this point. Prayer also for the refuge centers and their volunteers as survivors continue to pour into them.
  2. Continue to provide the Northwest District Disaster Response Warehouse with supplies and donations for all the kits that will be needed in the near future. Also volunteers are urgently needed there to process the requests as they come in.
  3. SHOWER AND LAUNDRY TRAILERS! Catherine Earl is currently seeking across the U.S. any shower trailers, and especially those with a washer and dryer. If your congregation or group would like to build one QUICKLY, contact me as soon as possible. We will need skilled people to build and generous people to provide the funds.
  4. Begin now planning for how your congregation will respond. Do not send any supplies of any type unless specially requested from the region or from UMCOR. And do not go down to volunteer to help, yet. As soon as the region is ready, we will pass the information along with who to contact in specific areas about registering teams.

In every disaster, especially one of this magnitude, chaos rules, so please be patient and provide only what is requested when it is requested.

One idea for you is that your local congregation become a collecting supplies for the UMCOR Cleaning Buckets and Health Kits.

Also there will be a need for:

  • flat shovels
  • garden (not leaf) rakes
  • wheel barrows (the kind with 2 wheels in the front)
  • fans
  • heavy duty extension cords
  • leather gloves
  • nitrile gloves (instead of latex due to some being allergic to latex)
  • disposable tyvek coveralls for when mucking out homes when the time comes.
At this time do not collect bottled water and especially do not collect used clothes.

The best immediate response is for your congregation to receive an offering for Disaster Response. Send your checks to The Office Of Conference Treasurer 898 Arkadelphia Rd. Birmingham, AL 35204 and earmark it DISASTER RESPONSE. You can also give directly to UMCOR online at this site.

Watch for more updates as the situation continues to development. And thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus in order to bring hope!

In His Grace,
Randy Burbank
Disaster Response Coordinator for the North Alabama Annual Conference
Email: rburbank@umcna.org

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