How you can be part of disaster response during coronavirus

April 29, 2020
Disaster Response in Puerto Rico
Submitted by Jim Robison-Cox
MSC Mission Team - Emergency Response

Disasters don’t take time out just because people are staying home.  We have had earthquakes in Puerto Rico in January, flooding in Jackson, MS, and tornadoes in Nashville, TN in February.

On March 18th an earthquake struck Salt Lake City and on Easter Sunday we’ve seen tornadoes across several states which killed over 30 people and displaced many more from their homes.


What are United Methodists doing in response?

UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is responding by providing grants to affected conferences.  You can give directly to “Tornado Relief” at this website  and 100% of your gift will go to help victims of the disaster.

UMCOR Sunday was March 22nd, while many of us were meeting online for the first or second time instead of having face-to-face church gatherings.  If you did not get a chance to give to this special offering you still may give online: (in the first box change ‘Choose One:’ to ‘UMCOR Sunday’ to designate your gift).

Remember: this offering covers the overhead for UMCOR for an entire year. That’s how they can pass 100% of all Advance giving on to the Advance projects. 
Our prayers are needed for those suffering and grieving at the effects of the pandemic, for healthcare workers and first responders, those laid off from work, and families with kids home from school. Many people are stretched in new ways and are having trouble coping. In addition, we pray for those affected by the disasters who have lost loved ones, their homes, and a place to shelter from the pandemic.
Does your church have a list of people who might need help with delivery of food or medicine? Are you in touch with those who are vulnerable?
We do all need to stay home and socially distance from others, so there are some things we can’t do right now – like sending Early Response Teams to areas affected by natural disasters.  But this is a time to think about and plan for future response.  Here are some suggestions:
Get your family and your home ready to survive a natural disaster.

In our conference we are should be ready for floods, fires, and earthquakes.  We have study materials called “Connecting Neighbors” to help with this, but we can’t bring people together for a presentation and training right now, so here are some links which will help you prepare: ​
Plan for a future UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Missions) trip to help with disaster recovery. 

There are several places in our Western Jurisdiction which need help rebuilding homes destroyed by fires.  Further away, relief efforts are underway in Puerto Rico and in the Bahamas.  These are all on hold for the moment, but by identifying interested people in your area and finding a team leader, we’ll be closer to being ready when restrictions are lifted.  

The coronavirus has changed how we live today, but we know that Easter also has changed how we see the world. Let’s go forward knowing that there are many needs in the world and looking for ways we can help.

If you have any questions about contributing to disaster response in the Mountain Sky Conference, visit the ERT webpage.