East Texas Tornadoes Relief & Response Update

Prayers and patience are requested by Disaster Relief Coordinators on the scene.

by Vance Morton*
There are very few constants in this world. The sun rises in the east. The sun sets in the west. Spring storms in Texas bring tornadoes. The people of the Central Texas Conference are eager and ready to assist their sisters and brothers in need following a disaster. As such, it wasn’t a surprise at all to Rev. Laraine Waughtal, CTC Coordinator of Disaster Response/UMVIM, that her phone and email were white hot with questions as to how people could help following the news that five confirmed tornadoes ripped through East Texas in the evening hours of Saturday, April 29.
 
“Everyone is so wonderful, they all want to help – to do something to support those in need,” Laraine commented. “Of course, the very best thing any of us can do to support the relief efforts is to pray. Beyond that, financial contributions – money or gift cards – is what is needed right now. Donations of water, clothing, food, etc. will do more harm than good right now because there is just no infrastructure with which to store and distribute those type of donations.”
 
Laraine remains in contact with the relief officials on site and is helping coordinate future Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) responses with the state.  The city of Canton and the surrounding area is where the majority of the damage happened. These areas are not within the borders of the Central Texas Conference, so CTC Early Response Teams (ERT)  will not be the first to deploy. However, ERT's should be ready as the Texas Conference has indicated that it will be looking to the CTC for assistance in the coming weeks.
 
As in the early stages of any disaster situation, patience is key. The needs of the communities affected are still in the early stages of assessment and the CTC Disaster Response Team is following its process. Please allow the local authorities and other disaster relief personnel the space and grace to get their communities up and running as quickly as possible. ERT and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) groups will be notified when their assistance is needed and a call for specific supplies will be made should that become necessary.
 
For anyone wishing to assist immediately, here are some ways that you can help immediately, as well as some things to avoid for right now.
  • Pray. Pray without ceasing for those affected and the response teams on site.
  • Support the response and relief efforts financially.
  • If you would like to make a cash donation, please send your checks to the conference office at 3200 E. Rosedale St, Fort Worth, Texas 76105. Indicate Canton Tornado Relief on your check. By sending cash donations to the CTCSC, we will be able to assist the Texas Conference more efficiently and your church will get credit towards your Five Star Giving this year.  Remember, thanks to UMCOR Sunday giving, all monies received will be used to directly support those affected by the tornadoes.
  • Walmart or VISA gift cards in the amount of either $25 or $50 are also encouraged and needed. You may send them directly to FUMC Canton or sent to the CTCSC.
  • Please DO NOT collect and send items such as water, food, clothing or furniture. These items only complicate the relief efforts at this time.
  • Please DO NOT go to the disaster site. Canton is still in search and rescue mode and recovering their utilities. We will send ERT teams in the coming days at the request of UMCOR. These must be trained and badged teams as all ERT’s will be required to check in and wear wristbands to work on site. 
 
*Vance is the director of Communications & IT for the CTC.  vancemorton@ctcumc.org