Flood Update: Two Phases of Recovery


The following update is from Mike Selleck, Director of Connectional Ministries:

It's Saturday evening an the rain continues ... but, it looks as if it will pass without adding new insult to this past weeks injuries. Next week will be busy as clean up begins in earnest. Remember please that disaster response comes in two phases: early responders and long term recovery.

Phase One (Current Response Level)
Early responders do the dangerous and urgent work of saving people, pets, and property. Things are secured, places are locked down, and clean up crews who manage electricity, water, and other utilities are at work to make rescue and recovery as safe as possible. The human needs at this point are most dire; shelter, water, food, medicines, transportation, and cash, to name a few. Then there are the little things like diapers and batteries that are taken for granted but are critical when they're needed and not handy. These things are being collected and dropped off at various sites near the areas where the damage is heaviest. 

You can get excellent suggestions and directions on how to support the early response needs by checking with your District Disaster Response team leader.

This early responders phase will last only as long as it takes to get people safe, sheltered, and the disaster zone is free of water and utility dangers. 

Phase Two
At that point, the long-term recovery begins. This will take months. There are thousands of homes that are affected. While many of that number may be your basic basement flooding that happens in heavy rain, there are hundreds and hundreds of homes that must be mucked out, gutted of drywall, dried, and rebuilt -- if that is even possible. Some homes are totally destroyed, some folks will move away and never come back, some have no option but to try and salvage whatever parts of their lives remain.

For United Methodists, the long-term recovery is largely done by UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief) and UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers In Missions.) These two organizations have been at work from the first moment of the flooding in North Georgia, and they'll be here until the work is completed, months and months from now. Most organizations currently very busy in the rescue specialize in just early response. These organizations will leave town after the early response is completed here and go to the next disaster needing to be stabilized. The United Methodist Church is among a handful of organizations that actually does both early response AND long term recovery. 

Work Teams, Financial Support and Prayers Needed
During the long-term rebuilding process, The United Methodist church will be very present and in need of all kinds of work teams, financial support, and prayers. Clearly early response isn't for everyone, it can be dangerous. 

There is also the matter of mold spores, chemical spill mists, contact with critters, especially snakes, spiders, and rodents. This type of early work requires persons who have some sense of what they're getting into. However, even if you're not able to jump into the thick of the damaged homes, there is plenty of 'safe' work available: handing out water, offering transportation, and helping with clothing and phone calling.

Long-term recovery offers even more opportunity for folks to get involved. 

Call Center is the Official Clearing Center
There is an UMCOR/UMVIM Call Center set up at Simpsonwood Conference and Retreat Center in Norcross. The Call Center is the official United Methodist clearing center for all kinds of long term recovery needs. 

Work teams from all over the southeast USA will soon be arriving to give aid and assistance in rebuilding. They will use the call center to learn where their skills and resources are most needed. If you know of recovery situations that need to be looked after, please call the UMVIM volunteers at the Call Center and let them know. They'll begin the hard work of matching needs to solutions. 

If you have resources or supplies to give away and want to know where it should be dropped, phone the Call Center and they'll give you guidance. So, whether you have a disaster, a solution, an UMCOR cleaning bucket, or a team looking for a project call the UMVIM North Georgia United Methodist Flood Relieve Call Center at 678-533-1443 any day between 7 and 7.

If you get an answering machine, leave a message and you'll get a response as soon as possible. We are working three phones and there will be times they're all busy, or we lack enough volunteers to handle all the calls. 

Thank You
Thank you for your overwhelming support and quick actions in the early phases of this disaster. Your compassion and generosity speak highly of your faith and commitment to the way of Christian discipleship. We have done much, and much more will be required. Go to the conference web site often www.ngumc.org to stay abreast of the latest information and how you can help. 

The Conference Disaster Response committee, which includes UMCOR and UMVIM as well as some of the finest and best trained folks in the Connection are on the job, and the system to keep things going smoothly and safely are in place and working well. Keep up the good work!

Mike Selleck