NEW YORK - More than 80,000 Floridians have received assistance from the United Methodist Church as they try to recover from the triple hurricanes that smashed Florida and elsewhere in the South.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the denomination's Florida Annual Conference have provided equipment and volunteers as well as grants.
Volunteers from 22 states are removing debris, repairing roofs, and clearing out mud and water in devastated Florida homes.
Thirty tractor trailers full of cleanup supplies, emergency food and building materials from UMCOR and other relief depots have converged on the hardest-hit areas.
Volunteers have borrowed church vans and rented commercial trailers to redistribute supplies.
Nearly 30 percent of the state's United Methodist church buildings have sustained damage.
UMCOR is also looking beyond Florida to the Caribbean islands, which have been lashed by the most violent storms in a decade, according to UMNS. Hurricane Frances mauled nearly every island in the Bahamas.
In response, the agency sent an initial grant to its Methodist partner in the Bahamas for water, shingles, plywood, tarps, medical supplies and emergency food. UMCOR will also help develop long-term recovery plans.
Grenada has dubbed the last hurricane, "Ivan the Terrible." The Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas is coordinating recovery efforts, including an emergency grant for initial cleanup and repairs. This grant will also hopefully supply fresh water and food.
UMCOR is discussing response options with partners in Jamaica, which has been affected by large-scale mudslides and flash flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. Some residents are still without power or telephone service.
Long-term recovery will take three to five years, according to the Rev. Kristin L. Sachen, program executive for UMCOR's disaster response.
She calls the “UMCOR way, having the patience to be the last one out,” in an interview with United Methodist News Service.
The agency continues to call for donations of cleaning supplies. Specifications can be found at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor online at the UMCOR Kits link. Gifts of money are also critical, to ensure continued readiness as more hurricanes threaten.
Contributions should be earmarked for "Hurricanes 2004," Advance #982410, and can be dropped in church offering plates, or mailed directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Donors who want to use a credit card may call, toll free, (800) 554-8583.