Disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and fires impact an entire community causing physical, economic, and emotional damage. As United Methodists, disaster allows us the opportunity to live our faith in ways that can transform our communities.
United Methodists are known to arrive early after disasters and are often the last to leave. There are several opportunities for you or your church to volunteer and help provide a caring Christian presence as communities recover. These opportunities come at different phases of a disaster and require different amounts of skills and training.
Emergency Responders handle the initial disaster response performing rescues and combating immediate damage. As the emergency phase winds down, Early Response Teams (ERTs) arrive to help. A main goal is to listen to the survivors, to find out what their needs are. Further tasks might include tarping roofs to limit water damage, removing damaged household items, cleaning, removing wet sheetrock. Typically, a team stays for just three days and is replaced by another team as needed.
After the early response, ongoing recovery efforts are needed to repair damage. United Methodists do this work too, but under the auspices of United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM). These teams typically rotate in for a week at a time and provide a wide variety of valuable services to help survivors in their recovery. These work projects could include, debris removal, clean up or painting.
There is a need for trained and credentialed persons to provide spiritual care services to survivors of disasters across the Mountain Sky Conference. At this point in time the state VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) have formed Disaster Spiritual Care (DSC) committees to guide the program development. Committee members include representatives of various faith-based and other disaster recovery groups including chaplains serving military, law enforcement organizations, and fire departments.