Disaster Response To Do List (And a Few Don'ts)
Many United Methodists across North Georgia have been inspired to delve deeper into disaster response ministry as neighbors to the west, south, and east have experienced devastation. We checked in with Disaster Response ministry pros and asked what should we do (and what should we not do) to be most helpful.
What To Do
What Not to Do
- To Do: Contact your local Red Cross and the local emergency management for your county or region. Ask how your church members or your church facility can be a resource or asset in times of disaster. The process takes time and preparation, so it is important to have the conversation and appropriate training well in advance of a storm.
- To Do: Look around your community for ways to offer hospitality and support. When our region had wide-spread power outages recently, we saw several UMCs open as charging stations for their neighbors or offer free ice from their church ice machine for coolers.
- To Do: Encourage members feeling called to hands-on response to get trained as UMCOR ERTs (Early Response Teams), Care Team members, or get chainsaw certification.
- To Do: Look for opportunities to serve where the current need is for your skill level. For instance, badged ERTs are needed (or will soon be needed) in response to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, but mission teams of a variety of skill levels are currently needed in North Carolina following last year's Hurricane Matthew.
- To Do: Give generously to UMCOR. Your giving funds case workers, recovery efforts, and other needed response. And plan to promote UMCOR Sunday (formerly One Great Hour of Sharing) each March. Because of this special offering that covers operating costs, 100 percent of donations to UMCOR go to the designated disaster.
- To Do: Assemble UMCOR Relief Kits. Those in need can count on The United Methodist Church for cleaning kits, hygiene kits, and more. Assemble these kits exactly as specified, as they cannot be used if the are incomplete or contain anything other that exactly the items requested. Find directions at http://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies.
There are a few things that fall in the "Do No Harm" category that are best not to do in response to disaster.
- Not to Do: Don't open your church as a shelter unless you've been authorized and activated by the Red Cross or local emergency management.
- Not to Do: Don't self deploy. It's natural to want to go help, but we work best when we coordinate with other Annual Conferences, UMCOR, and other organizations active in Disaster Response.
- Not to Do: Don't send clothes, water, toys, etc. Sending items that haven't been specifically requested of The United Methodist Church may come from a heart of generosity, but creates a second disaster as the already devastated region has to deal with un-needed or an over supply of goods. (Read more in this CBS News report: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/best-intentions-when-disaster-relief-brings-anything-but-relief/.)