Photo by Dave Rice.
Disaster Response Hotline: 1-800-390-4911
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jessica Brodie
As Hurricane Matthew continues its trek up the South Carolina coast today, Oct. 8, United Methodist disaster response leaders are calling upon people to step up and help as the church prepares for major aid.
The hurricane’s northern eyewall struck Hilton Head Island as a Category 2 storm very early Saturday and continued north, weakening to a Category 1 and making landfall in McClellanville, a small town between Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Flooding from the storm-surge is the biggest danger, and early reports are showing whole neighborhoods swamped, piers demolished, trees uprooted and, in Charleston, waist-level flooding in some parts. Hurricane Matthew was a Category 4 storm when it slammed Haiti earlier this week, killing nearly 900 people and then moving onto Florida, where it claimed the lives of at least six more people before moving north.
It is the first hurricane to make landfall in South Carolina since Hurricane Hugo devastated the state in 1989.
Matt Brodie, disaster response coordinator for the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, said the church needs people to assess needs in their local communities, as well as begin to give of their time, their buildings and their financial resources.
“We’re still in the assessment phase, and we’re gathering as much information as we can from those who are on the ground, but those who are not affected can still help,” Brodie said.
South Carolina United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Early Response Teams are mobilizing now and beginning to help where able, though many areas are not yet safe. The conference is working to set up a hotline for those in need; for now, people who have experienced damage to their homes or church buildings are encouraged to first call their insurance companies and then contact their district offices here to let them know their needs. Those in need can contact our disaster response hotline number at 1-800-390-4911 or email email@example.com
For those not affected by the storm, Brodie listed several critical needs:
The S.C. Conference is soliciting donations (or loans) of GPS devices that ERT teams can use to help get to their destinations safely. Please contact Brodie at 803-786-9486 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
Churches in affected areas willing to house disaster response teams call
Churches in affected areas willing to act as distribution centers for relief supplies such as cleaning buckets and health kits, and possibly partner with other organizations with their supply efforts call 1-800-390-4911
People to get trained to serve on Early Response Teams; the next official training is Oct. 29, but the conference is considering an earlier training, as well call 1-800-390-4911
People to donate to the UMCSC disaster response fund; funds will help ERTs pay for fuel, supplies, tarps, chainsaws and other necessary tools for the response effort (donate online here);
Donations of box fans for drying out flooded homes.
People to donate or lend vehicles and supplies, such as a shower trailer for teams or a large pickup truck (Ford F250-style or equivalent) that can haul the relief trailers (contact email@example.com or 803-786-9486);
People to help assess areas and figure out community needs (contact your district office here with information you discover)
People to make health kits and cleaning buckets (go here for instructions on how to assemble and what to include); and
People with big vehicles to haul large quantities of the cleaning buckets and health kits to the distribution centers (contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-786-9486).
“We’re doing what we can now to get ready so that as soon as it is safe for us to respond, we can do so,” Brodie said.
South Carolina Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston urged United Methodists to pray, give and prepare as the storm began its move toward South Carolina. He said The United Methodist Committee on Relief and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission stand ready to provide assistance as recovery efforts unfold.
“We are a connectional church, and we are not alone as we seek to respond faithfully to communities in crisis,” Holston said in his hurricane response on the UMCSC website; read his statement in full here. “We see tremendous evidence of God’s faithfulness in our midst.”
In the aftermath of the storm, the conference is also becoming aware of a cyberscam email circulating, urging people to check for power outages.
“As soon as they open the email, they get a virus,” Brodie said, urging people to be wary and only open emails from trusted sources.
More information will be communicated soon as the response effort unfolds.