Updated April 28, 5:45 pm
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please wait for emergency crews to make travel in and out of some of these communities safe before sending teams.
Our Conference Director of Connectional Ministries has been working with District Superintendents and the Conference Disaster Response Team to compile reports of damages and to begin planning the Conference’s response following severe storms that traveled through Georgia Wednesday, April 27. Mike Yoder, our Conference Chair of Disaster Response, is president of Georgia VOAD, the recognized volunteer response organization of Georgia. He is our first contact as we begin to organize our response.
Mike Cash of the Griffin District has reported severe damage in his District including loss of life. Vaughn UMC (northwest of Griffin) is destroyed. The area is inaccessible and he emphasizes that no teams come yet. Also in the Griffin area, the home of Rev. Willie Green, pastor of Faith UMC, sustained minor damage. The home of Monticello UMC's youth director was severely damaged by the tornado that struck in Jasper County. Rev. John Brown asks the conference to please be in prayer for the couple as they are a husband and wife team and she is five months pregnant.
Carol Cook of the LaGrange District has checked in to say there is no reported damage to church property in her District. However there is considerable damage in the Warm Springs area. Red Cross is setting up a shelter in the Manchester area.
The Northwest District was one of the hardest hit areas of our state, particularly the Ringgold community. Mike Cavin, District Superintendent, reports that Ringgold UMC had been functioning as a shelter, but that authorities have now removed anyone who is not a certified First Responder from the city. There is no reported damage to church property.
Jim Lowry from the Atlanta-Marietta District reports no significant damage to United Methodist churches, although there is significant community damage in various parts of the district.
Gary Whetstone of the Athens District reports no damage to United Methodist church properties.
Gainesville District Superintendent, Gerald Thurman, reports that the steeple blew partly off of Mt. City UMC in Dillard. There was significant damage to the area, Black Mountain State Park especially. The home of Gayle Arnold, one of our clergy currently on disability leave, sustained very significant damage, as did her property and automobiles last night. Mossy Creek UMC members are working with local agencies to get tarps on her house.
Jim Cantrell, District Superintendent in the Atlanta-Emory District, has received no reports of damage to churches in the area.
Mike Selleck, director of Connectional Ministries, reminds volunteers to take extra precautions both for safety and to avoid scams that often arise in times of disaster.
"It's important to remember that when disaster strikes, there is also the danger of false information," said Selleck. "People in a hurry make lapses in judgment; not just victims who are hoodwinked but people who are trying to help can be conned at times. Make sure your team doesn't become engaged with the wrong people. Stay connected and be wary."
For more information on how your Early Response Team or work team can help, please contact the Conference Disaster Response Line at 770.739.9537 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.