Praying, Giving, Serving: Responding to Damage from Tornadoes, Severe Storms Across North Georgia
Updated January 27
"On behalf of the North Georgia Conference, we send our earnest prayers to all those persons and communities affected by the recent tornadoes. We also pray for generosity and provision asking individuals, churches, and organizations to contribute to UMCOR."
—Bishop Robin Dease (Read the full message from Bishop Dease.
Along the path of a tornado in Griffin. Photo by Mark Brown.
North Georgia United Methodists join in prayer for all who were affected by the January 12 storms.
As many as 10 confirmed tornadoes impacted Georgia and we have received reports of wind and hail damage in communities across our Conference. It appears that there are between 150 and 200 homes damaged in our area. Counties impacted include Troup, Meriwether, Dekalb, Spalding, Warren, Butts, Jasper, and Henry.
Our Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Scott Parrish is in steady conversation with UMCOR, our trained ERT, our response partners, and our neighboring Annual Conferences. ERT from across the Conference have responded.
THANK YOU, UMCOR
Less than 24 hours after the storm, Bishop Robin Dease requested a solidarity grant from UMCOR. By that evening, the grant had been awarded. The funds will go toward North Georgia's response to the storms.
THE CHURCH IN ACTION
Griffin is among the communities impacted by a confirmed tornado. Griffin First UMC opened as a Red Cross shelter and their trained ERT deployed the morning after the storm assisting with tornado impact needs. Additionally they opened the church to host outside ERTs.
"I’m grateful for Griffin First's preparations and training," said Parrish.
Griffin First UMC has been joined by ERT from Alpharetta First UMC, Northside UMC, Canton First UMC, St James UMC Atlanta, Carrollton First UMC, Hillside UMC, and Newnan First UMC. United Methodists in Newnan understand the recovery process first-hand, as they continue long-term recovery from the tornado that struck the community in 2020.
"We cleared trees providing much-needed access to homes and making properties safe for 4 families," said Mark Brown of Northside UMC in Atlanta. "The devastation is more than you might gather from the local news. Griffin First UMC is also a Red Cross housing center with over 100 displaced people living in the gymnasium."
South Georgia Conference disaster response came to our assistance in Meriwether County and sent their shower trailer to a newly established Red Cross shelter in Locust Grove.
Steven Redmond, Disaster Response Warehouse Manager, delivered UMCOR cleaning buckets and hygiene kits assembled by NGUMC congregations to Meriwether County.
Northside UMC's Allen Hill and Steve Barton volunteered to retrieve our conference shower trailer from Port Charlotte, near Fort Myers, Florida, and reposition it at the Hanlieter campus of Griffin First UMC.
"This is God’s church at its best," said Rev. Debby Stikes who serves as pastor at Hanleiter. "When you take the Griffin First ERT and put it with the church Missions Committee, the UWF, UMM, Boy Scouts, a Sunday School class, and North Georgia Conference Disaster Response, you get two bunk rooms for ERTs who come and work in the Griffin/Spalding County area where recent tornadoes caused great damage."
"After securing the shower trailer so these teams would be able to shower after work, these groups from Griffin First United Methodist Church got together and had beds donated, bunks built, mattresses donated, linens and pillows purchased, and a cleaning crew to deep clean the rooms so that these bunk rooms would come to life at the Hanleiter Campus of Griffin First," Stikes continued. "Additional volunteers are supplying hot meals and food gift cards for the workers, paper products, and other necessary items for the beginning of a new ministry! It’s exciting and it is very busy around here!"
In Locust Grove, "an amazing collaboration of religious, civic, and private industry are doing great work," shared Rev. Gil McGinnis. "The community has rallied around the trailer park that was hit the hardest. Our food pantry on Tuesday made new contacts with people. As the week went on, I continued to find out about members who had damage to their homes, but not terrible damage.“
In Troup County, LaGrange College students, alumni, and Chaplain Adam Roberts participated in a work day in a neighborhood where 20 homes were severely damaged and several are total losses.
We are grateful to every congregation at work in their community in this time of great need!
HOW TO HELP
Tor those outside the impacted communities, the best way to offer support is through prayer, preparation, and giving.
DON'Ts OF DISASTER RESPONSE
- Pray for local officials & responders as they begin to reclaim control out of chaos
- Pray for communities in the path of these storms
- Give to UMCOR (U.S. Disaster Response #901670) or North Georgia Conference Disaster Response (#3740) through any United Methodist Church in our Conference
- ERTs should contact Rev. Scott Parrish with their availability and equipment so that we can best deploy teams as they're requested
As always, please do not self-deploy.
"We never want to become a drain on community resources by arriving without invitation or by sending unneeded goods," said Parrish. "Have you heard of SUVs? 'Spontaneous Unsolicited/Untrained Volunteers' are well-meaning, but often lack the necessary team effort, necessary skills and equipment, and right timing to be useful in a disaster zone."
Instead, our coordinated response upon invitation is a hallmark of our United Methodist connection and one reason we are a trusted partner of GEMA, VOAD, and others.
The North Georgia Conference will continue to share updates at ngumc.org
If your church building or church property is damaged, the pastor or chair of trustees should make two phone calls:
1 - Call your church insurance provider
2 - Call your District Superintendent
Please monitor your community damage and reach out to Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org if your community needs outside support. Scott continues to follow local assessments and needs across a 5- to 6-county area.