Hurricane Florence-related disaster recovery efforts of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church will be one of the beneficiaries of a $2 million grant to UMCOR from the Duke Endowment.
The grant is part of a $5 million package that trustees of the Duke Endowment – one of the largest private foundations in the Southeast – approved to support communities in South Carolina and North Carolina that were affected by Hurricane Florence.
“As United Methodists, we do more together than we could ever do by ourselves – that is the blessing of our connectional system,” said Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference. “This generous grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and the Duke Endowment will allow us to continue to be in mission and ministry together throughout South Carolina.
“It will give us the opportunity to put our hands, our skills and our hearts to work to provide a future with hope to those whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Florence and the flooding that it created.”
Initially, $2 million from the Duke Endowment will help UMCOR address immediate recovery needs in both states. The foundation will distribute the additional $3 million later to support long-term rebuilding efforts.
“From the time that our founder created his foundation in 1924, the Duke Endowment has had a home in the Carolinas and a goal of improving lives across these two states,” said Minor Shaw, chairperson of the foundation’s board. “In the aftermath of this deadly storm, we know that restoring lives and livelihoods will be a prolonged struggle.
“The endowment wanted to support communities now as our neighbors work daily to recover, and still help in the future when it is time to rebuild.”
Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina in September 2018 before plowing into northeastern South Carolina, causing the deaths of more than 50 people, extensive flooding and billions of dollars in damage.
UMCOR – the global humanitarian aid and development agency of the United Methodist Church – is working in more than 80 countries worldwide, including the United States and its territories. Its mission is to alleviate human suffering – whether caused by war, conflict or natural disaster – without regard to religion, race, nationality or gender, and to enhance the quality of life in the human community.
The $500,000 grant request for Hurricane Florence, if approved, would push the total amount of UMCOR grant money awarded to the South Carolina Conference since the historic 2015 floods past $2 million. Those grants – in addition to logistical support and other backing – under-girds both the conference’s immediate Disaster Response work (Early Response Teams and volunteer clean-up efforts, cleaning buckets, etc.) and its long-term Disaster Recovery efforts (rebuilding homes).
“For almost 80 years, UMCOR has supported its local partners and empowered survivors to lead their own way out of disaster,” said Thomas Kemper, general secretary of the UMC’s General Board of Global Ministries. “Thanks to the assistance from individuals and organizations like The Duke Endowment, we have been able to maintain our devotion to strengthening and transforming areas after a crisis and providing hope to those who need it most.”
Cathy Earl, UMCOR’s director of U.S. Disaster Response and U.S. Partner Relations, said UMCOR responds to civil and natural disasters of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community’s ability to recover on its own.
“Within hours of Hurricane Florence’s impacting the area, UMCOR was providing support to our local partners,” Earl said. “Our holistic response includes providing disaster case management services, accessing essential supplies, supporting long-term rebuilding efforts, and assisting communities as they adapt. Grants such as this from the Duke Endowment help make all of that possible.”
The Charlotte-based Duke Endowment’s work focuses on four program areas: child care, health care, higher education and rural United Methodist churches. The foundation shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but they are separate organizations.