From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Hurricane relief efforts continue

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 26 Oct 1998 14:56:33

Oct. 26 1998	Contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York     {621}

By Bob Blair*

A month after Hurricane Georges swept through parts of the Caribbean and
the coastal United States, United Methodists continue to respond to the

The winds and rain generated by the September hurricane caused
widespread destruction and killed more than 500 people. Affected were
Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Antigua, St. Kitts,
Nevis, St. Maarten, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Florida Keys and
Panhandle, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has sent emergency
relief funds to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, along with four
large and 12 small electrical generators to Puerto Rico. An estimated
10,000 people there continue to live in shelters because of the large
amount of damage to homes.

In Haiti, more than 200 people were killed, and losses to agriculture
are estimated at $30 million. Poor communications and the mountainous
terrain have complicated relief efforts. UMCOR is assisting an
orphanage, and staff and volunteers have been distributing tons of food.

An emergency grant also has been sent to aid the relief efforts of
Methodist churches in Cuba, where five people were killed by the
hurricane. Methodists on the Virgin Islands have provided volunteer
services and formed an interfaith relief effort with other

In the Keys, 50 teams of United Methodists came from mainland Florida to
help elderly and handicapped residents clean up debris and mop out
flooded dwellings. About 1,500 homes there were damaged or destroyed by

Bill Rahn, disaster relief coordinator for the Florida United Methodist
Annual (regional) Conference, has reported that Keys residents still
need food supplies. Although he has obtained about 57,000 pounds of
canned goods from the American Red Cross, it won't be enough to meet the
demand. He asked that donations of nonperishable food be sent prepaid to
the United Methodist warehouse at 3570 N.E. 53rd Terrace in High
Springs, Fla. The telephone number is 1-800-297-4233.

Florida United Methodists also will join an interfaith effort to rebuild
the dwellings of 23 to 30 families, according to Rahn. The cost of the
three-year effort is estimated at $750,000.

Florida Bishop Cornelius Henderson visited with hurricane survivors in
Key West, including the Rev. Willie Alexander and several members of
Newman United Methodist Church. Although the church sustained thousands
of dollars in damage from the hurricane, its members managed to provide
canned goods, water, ice and generators to the community, Alexander

In Louisiana, the United Methodist annual conference is conducting a
campaign for donated goods that has produced about 800 buckets of
cleaning supplies for the UMCOR Depot in Baldwin. Volunteers also have
helped clean up in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Mississippi.

UMCOR sent five members of its catastrophic disaster response team to
Mississippi for two weeks. The Rev. Hiram Coker, the United Methodist
disaster response coordinator there, said more than 60 tons of cleanup
supplies were distributed. "However, we have a big task ahead of us,
since preliminary figures indicate that 500 to 1,000 families will need
our help in rebuilding their homes," he added.

United Methodists are part of an interfaith effort to raise $500,000 for
long-range recovery.

Don Weaver, an UMCOR team leader in Mississippi, reported an urgent need
for volunteer teams to remove trees and debris, clean up homes,
including furniture and carpeting, and remove soaked dry wall before the
rebuilding process.

"Volunteers are needed to help the elderly, single mothers and people
with disabilities," he said. "They are unable to do the work themselves
and unable to hire help."

People wishing to volunteer in Mississippi may contact Mike Stanton-Rich
at 1-888-354-0515.

UMCOR also dispatched two catastrophic team members and a 40-foot
container of cleaning supplies, power washers and generators to assist
recovery in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

Lawrence Bowden, disaster coordinator for the Alabama-West Florida
Annual Conference, said many volunteers would be needed to rebuild more
than 100 flooded dwellings during the next two years. Volunteers for
that region should call 1-888-496-8136.
The United Methodist Council of Bishops has issued a churchwide appeal
to respond to the devastation caused by Hurricane Georges. Donations can
be made to UMCOR Advance No. 982515-0, marked for "Hurricanes '98," and
dropped in church collection plates or mailed to UMCOR at 475 Riverside
Drive, Room 330, New York, NY 10115.
# # #
*Blair, of  Woodstock, Va., is a volunteer with UMCOR.

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