Hurricane Harvey Relief & Recovery

 

How to Help Immediately

While it is imperative to practice patience in the early stage of any disaster, this unprecedented and still very active weather event remains quite dangerous. Everyone, including trained ERTs, are strongly urged to stay away from the affected areas until invited by state and/or federal officials. Of course, there are ways that local churches and individuals can immediately help: Prayers, Cleaning Buckets, Hygiene Kits and monetary/gift card donations are all needed immediately. Please visit ctcumc.org/HurricaneHarvey-HowToHelp for more details.

 

UPDATE: 1:10 p.m., Sept. 12 - Rio Texas Conference Calls for Mold Killers

The Rio Texas Conference has put out an urgent call for products that kill mold - specifically Shockwave and Concrobium. As the clean-up efforts get underway in the Coastal Bend area of the Rio Texas Conference, mold is increasingly becoming a problem. Products to kill the mold are an immediate need and in very short supply in the affected areas. Anyone wishing to assist by providing products to kill this mold are asked to buy the cleaning products online and have them shipped directly to Victoria, Texas where the Rio Texas Conference has secured a temporary space to store these product donations. By ordering online instead of collecting and delivering in person, the products will get to the area of need faster and allow for more orderly delivery. These products are available on Amazon (Shockwave and Concrobium) and the Home Depot (Concrobium) and Lowe's (Concrobium) websites. Please send the cleaners to FUMC Victoria, 407 North Bridge, Victoria, TX 77901.
 

UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. Sept. 11 - Response Highlights

by Rev. Ginger Watson, CTC Disaster Response Coordinator
United Methodists in the Central Texas Conference have responded with extraordinary generosity to our neighbors whose lives have been upended by Hurricane Harvey in the Rio Texas and Texas Conferences. While the list of all the ways that the people and local churches of the CTC have responded would make War and Peace look like a pamphlet, here are a few highlights:
  • CTC Early Response Teams are on the ground in the Rio Texas Conference clearing the muck and debris from homes. We have more scheduled to deploy in the coming days/weeks.
  • More than 100 people are registered for ERT training courses in the next two weeks – that’s more than 100 new ERTs soon to be available to respond to disaster (not just Harvey) from our conference. If you are not one of these 100-plus registrants for training and you are feeling called to join the CTC ERT family, please visit ctcumc.org/ERTtrainings to learn more.
  • A CTC ERT training team deployed to the Corpus Christi area to train 50 people eager to help their neighbors as ERTs.
  • The conference has sent hundreds of Cleaning Buckets and Hygiene Kits to the warehouses in Conroe and Kerrville via individuals with trailers who donated their time, money and energy to transport the materials.
  • Even with the hundreds and hundreds already sent, Local Churches continue to make cleaning buckets and hygiene kits to replenish supplies in the impacted areas, at our depots and the Sager Brown warehouse. (If you have completed supplies, please continue to coordinate with your closest depot.)
  • Our depot churches at FUMC Hillsboro, Tenth Street UMC (Taylor), LifePoint UMC and FUMC Comanche have received truckloads of materials and helped coordinate their transport. You can deliver buckets and kits to any of our CTC Kit Depots. Here is a list of our Central Texas Conference Kit Depots. It is imperative that you call the contact listed below before dropping off your built kits. 
    • North: LifePoint UMC (12501 US Hwy 287, Fort Worth) - Contact: Bob Hegeman (785-817-5117)
    • Central: Hillsboro FUMC (315 E. Elm, Hillsboro) - Contact: Kim Mays (254-582-2342)
    • South: Tenth Street UMC (410 W. 10th St., Taylor) - Contact: Travis Summerlin (512-352-2244)
    • West: Mini-Depot: Comanche FUMC (217 E. Grand, Comanche) - Contacts: Kevin Morton (325-220-1717) and Sharla Cox (325-356-2120 M-Th 9 a.m.Noon & 1-5 p.m. / Friday 9 a.m-1 p.m.)   
  • FUMC Hurst and White’s Chapel UMC provided Ministry Safe volunteers to work with evacuee children at the shelter in Fort Worth.
  • Genesis UMC provided more than 500 pairs of new underwear, along with new backpacks to evacuees.
  • Several local churches responded to an immediate and urgent request for bedding sets by providing 240 new pillows, sheet sets and blankets for evacuees.
  • Church members across our conference have been in prayer for the survivors of Harvey and those now also impacted by Hurricane Irma
  • Church members across our conference have been in prayer for the survivors of Harvey and those now also impacted by Hurricane Irma

Although the Texas Conference (Houston Episcopal area) has now opened for ERTs to come in and begin to assist, our CTC ERTs will continue to be faithful to the Rio Texas Conference (San Antonio Episcopal area). The Rio Texas churches in Corpus Christi and other gulf coast communities remain the area of greatest need. With the national media attention turning to Hurricane Irma, experts anticipate that the response to the Coastal Bend of Texas will wane considerably. To all those with friends and relatives in the Houston area, be assured that there will be many opportunities in the future to volunteer in the Texas Conference. However, for now and the foreseeable near future, the Rio Texas Conference needs our continued focused support. 

Financial Support is still one of the best ways to support the relief and recovery efforts at this time. Please note that it is important for you to make your check(s) payable to the Central Texas Conference and put Hurricane Relief in the notation area of the check. The CTC Finance team cannot deposit checks made out to UMCOR and has to mail those checks directly to UMCOR which delays your contributions getting to those who need them.

On behalf of the entire Central Texas Conference Disaster Support Team, thank you! We are so grateful – not surprised in the least, but still very grateful – for the tremendous generosity, compassion and faithfulness of the people of the Central Texas Conference towards our neighbors in need.

UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. Aug. 30 - Cleaning Buckets and ERTs are Ready to Roll

Floodwaters are receding in some areas but still rising in others, so while there is light at the end of the tunnel, we are still in the tunnel.  Please be in prayer for all who have suffered loss, and especially for those in East Texas and Southwest Louisiana as now Tropical Storm Harvey makes his anchor landfall in that area today. At this time, there are no reports of flooding within the borders of the Central Texas Conference.
 
The Central Texas Conference (CTC) will be sending a supply trailer to the disaster sites ready for cleaning buckets and hygiene kits very soon. These will primarily be sent to the Texas Conference’s warehouse in Conroe so that they are available as teams go into the impacted areas. If you have Cleaning Buckets ready to go, please get them to First Methodist Mansfield (777 N. Walnut Creek Dr., Mansfield, TX) by 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31. They will receive donations until 5 p.m. today and beginning at 8 a.m. tomorrow. The trailer should be in their main parking lot.  However, if it not there, please go to the Wesley Missions Building located on the east side of their campus.
 
You can deliver buckets and kits to any of our CTC Kit Depots. Here is a list of our Central Texas Conference Kit Depots. It is imperative that you call the contact listed below before dropping off your built kits.  
  • North: LifePoint UMC (12501 US Hwy 287, Fort Worth) - Contact: Bob Hegeman (785-817-5117)
  • Central: Hillsboro FUMC (315 E. Elm, Hillsboro) - Contact: Kim Mays (254-582-2342)
  • South: Tenth Street UMC (410 W. 10th St., Taylor) - Contact: Travis Summerlin (512-352-2244)
  • West: Mini-Depot: Comanche FUMC (217 E. Grand, Comanche) - Contacts: Kevin Morton (325-220-1717) and Sharla Cox (325-356-2120 M-Th 9 a.m.Noon & 1-5 p.m. / Friday 9 a.m-1 p.m.)   
The Central Texas Conference has officially received an invitation from the Rio Texas Conference requesting that our ERTs be deployed. If you are a trained and badged ERT and can immediately deploy, PLEASE register yourself and your team with the CTC Disaster Response team. You will then be sent a link and further information to register with Rio Texas. While this might seem like unnecessary red tape, this process ensures that everyone who deploys is badged, currently Ministry Safe accredited and otherwise eligible to assist. This process also provides individuals who are not a member of an already established team to be placed with teams where the need is most immediate.  
 
CTC ERTs will be going to the Corpus Christi area beginning tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 31). They will be working in the outer bands of ground zero in the coastal area. Food, gas and other supplies are available to them in Corpus. Please pray for our teams!
 
Additionally ERT trainers from our conference have been asked to provide training to the Rio Texas Conference. Several will be deploying in that capacity so that those conference members can help their neighbors. If you are not a trained ERT and would like to be able to respond to this and future disaster situations, please visit ctcumc.org/ERTtrainings and register for one of the upcoming certification classes. There are three available in the coming months (Sept. 16, Sept. 23, Oct. 14).
 
Relief agencies have informed us that they are being inundated with clothing and household goods donations. Please note that while the spirit of giving is appreciated and inspiring, these items are not helpful at this time. The response sites are not equipped to warehouse such donations. As a reminder, the best way to assist – besides prayer – is to build Cleaning Buckets and Hygiene Kits, and to donate to the UMCOR Advance #901670. Gift cards (Visa, Walmart, etc. in $50 increments) are also very useful and welcome.
 
Monetary donations can be received through the local church, the conference office or directly to UMCOR with “hurricane” in the subject line. Some people are donating to the Red Cross, while others are wondering if that is a good use of money. The Red Cross provides an invaluable service by providing for immediate needs, with a respectably low amount of overhead taken from donations. Whether shelter, food, water or even medical help, the Red Cross does essential work. However, unlike UMCOR, once the immediate needs are met and the disaster moves into the recovery phase, the Red Cross moves out. They receive a tremendous amount of support for their work, and then move on with the money to the next disaster. That can be frustrating for agencies that are committed for the long process of rebuilding. UMCOR is first in and last out on disasters. Even if it takes years, UMCOR makes sure that survivors rebuild and begin their lives again. As United Methodists, please urge everyone to support UMCOR.
 
We expect that shelters will begin to request specific donations of items like NEW underwear, socks, etc. We will continue to keep you informed of such requests as we receive them.
 
Several churches have offered to shelter evacuees.  The State has a system in place to establish shelters in cities. The clear preference is for evacuees to shelter at these locations because of the deployment of resources already in place and the clear protocols to keep people safe, healthy, and accounted for. If your church has a shelter nearby, you can contact them for information on volunteering and material needs. Please encourage all your potential volunteers to complete the MinistrySafe process!
 
And finally, please remain patient. This is going to be a very long recovery process, and the rescue phase is ongoing in some areas even today. It would not be a surprise that youth in grade school now will be heading to Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast for CTCYM mission projects well into their high school years. The CTC Disaster Response team will keep you informed on the best ways to help at the appropriate time.

 


UPDATE: 10:25 a.m. Aug. 29 - Bishop Calls for Special Offering

Bishop Lowry is calling on the churches of the Central Texas Conference to pray and to support UMCOR’s relief efforts by receiving a special Hurricane Harvey Flood Relief offering sometime within the next four to six weeks.
In his latest blog post – Responding to Harvey, Aug. 28 – Bishop Lowry put forth “a very personal” request to all Central Texas Conference Methodists to join in praying earnestly and often for the people of the Texas Gulf Coast, especially those who are directly affected by flooding from Harvey and all of the first responders who have come from all across Texas and several other states to assist in rescue efforts.
 
He also reiterated the calls for patience and financial support that have been posted on our conference website (ctcumc.org/HurricaneHarvey ) and delivered via our Mission Support and Disaster Relief communications. Today, he is reinforcing the invitation to financially support the UMCOR relief efforts by calling on the churches of the Central Texas Conference to receive a Hurricane Harvey Flood Relief Special Offering sometime within the next four to six weeks.
 
While the level of devastation will not be known until the flood waters recede, it is obvious that the people of southeast Texas are going to need a lot of help – and right now the best way to assist is via monetary donations. Please send the donations received via the special offering to the Central Texas Conference Service Center, Attn: Disaster Response, 3200 E. Rosedale, St. Fort Worth, Texas 76105. Checks should be made out to Central Texas Conference and please note Hurricane Harvey or Advance #901670 on the check. If people prefer to give directly to UMCOR, they may do so online at umcor.org.
 
Please remember that all money received will go directly to aid those affected by the flooding and other hurricane damage. No administration costs are deducted thanks to the UMCOR Sunday Special Offering, which goes to fund all of UMCORs administrative costs for the year, leaving 100 percent of monies donated to a particular relief effort free to help those in need. 
 
“As I make this call for a special offering, the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew come to mind,” Bishop Lowry said. “I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.” (Matthew 25: 40 CEB). Thank you for your consideration of this special offering and I ask that you do as you so often have done and give generously.”

UPDATE: 10 a.m. Aug. 28 - Prayers and Patience Remain the Best Course of Action

Hurricane Harvey continues to devastate coastal Texas with unprecedented rain and record flooding. The situation is evolving and the crisis is not expected to pass for several more days. We will see more evacuees and property loss as the rain continues. The primary focus right now is on preventing loss of life. 
 
Authorities estimate that at least 30,000 people will need shelter in the next day or two, and we have already seen some of those folks come into our conference seeking refuge. We have learned that Killeen FUMC is currently hosting seven people and is prepared to help as many as 100 at a time. If your church is already providing shelter or has the ability to do so, please email Sheryl Crumrine at sheryl@ctcumc.org so that the CTCSC Disaster Response team can best assist you in these efforts.
 
Our conference ERT teams are ready and standing by to assist as soon as they are called upon. However, the tragic truth is that this storm is far from over and much more rain and flooding is still expected in the Greater Houston area and throughout southeast Texas. As such, we simply have to wait and pray until the storm is over, the immediate danger has passed, the damage can be assessed and the immediate needs identified. As difficult as that is for so many who are feeling called to help, prayer and patience is absolutely the best course of action at this point. This is going to be a very long recovery process, most likely, several years. There will be much to do and plenty of opportunities to help in the months and years to come.
 
The Conference Disaster Response team has learned that several people have decided to self-deploy to the Houston and Texas Gulf Coast area. Once again, all are strongly urged to exercise restraint and patience and hold off on deployment until local, state and federal authorities say that it is safe to do go in and begin rescue and recovery efforts. We have several teams already poised to go as soon as we are invited by the Texas or Rio Texas conferences. If you are a trained and badged ERT or ERT Team and would like to deploy as soon as we are invited, please go to ctc-reg.brtapp.com/HurricanHarvey2017 and register. 
 
Rev. Ginger Watson, CTC Coordinator of Disaster Response, has been in regular contact with UMCOR and State of Texas Authorities, and this morning (Monday, Aug. 28) confirmed that the Central Texas Conference is NOT in an active disaster mode. To date we have had no reports of flood damage anywhere in the conference, but the situation could change as rain continues and the remnants of Harvey begin finally move away from the Houston area in the next few days. Please continue to watch ctcumc.org/HurricaneHarvey for updates as they are available.
 
Please contact Sheryl Crumrine (sheryl@ctcumc.org) or  817-877-5222 with questions.

Conference ERTs Prepare to Assist in Hurricane Harvey Relief & Recovery Efforts

Posted 2 p.m. Aug. 25
The Central Texas Conference Disaster Response Team held conference calls Thursday, Aug. 24 with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the Texas Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster Relief (TX VOAD) in preparations for Hurricane Harvey hitting the Texas Gulf Coast.
 
As of this writing, the National Weather Service and other meteorological organizations are forecasting Harvey to be a devastating storm for coastal Texas, the Greater Houston area and elsewhere in east and central Texas. Meteorologists expect the storm to make landfall north of Corpus Christi anytime from midnight to 4 a.m. Saturday (Aug. 26). It is predicted that Harvey will be a Level 3 storm with 125 mph sustained winds and major rain. Besides the high winds and rain typically associated with hurricanes, other weather fronts in Texas are likely to stop Harvey in its tracks and have him just sit and dump rain for 18 hours or more before moving up the coast to Houston. Some computer models are suggesting that certain areas of Texas may receive as much as 32-inches of rain courtesy of Harvey.  

The Texas and Rio Texas Conferences are anticipated to bear the brunt of the storm, although flooding could occur in Williamson County – the southernmost county in our conference. There is also a high probability that our conference will have the opportunity to provide shelter and supplies to evacuees and others fleeing the storm..

The Central Texas Conference Disaster Response team is standing by and ready according to Rev. Ginger Watson, coordinator of Disaster Response for the CTC.
 
“I am so grateful to all of our ERTs, UMVIM members and our local churches for their commitment to disaster response,” Ginger stated. “In anticipation of the storm, we are identifying which of our ERT teams could quickly mobilize for response within our conference or if we are invited into another conference.”
 
Anyone who is already part of an ERT team and is available to quickly respond is asked to go to ctcumc.org/HarveyERT and register. If you're not currently part of an ERT team, but could still respond on short notice, please click above and register as well. The Disaster Response Team leadership will assign individuals to existing teams as needed.  
 
For those who are not ERT and UMVIM trained but would still like to help, please go to umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies/Relief-Supply-Kits/Cleaning to learn how to and then begin building Cleaning Buckets. Once the buckets are made and ready, please contact Sheryl Crumrine (sherylcrumrine@ctcumc.org / 817-877-5222) at the Central Texas Conference Service Center (CTCSC) for information on how to get those buckets to where they are most needed. 
 
Also, financial support is also encouraged and welcome. Churches may start collecting donations at their local churches – just put Hurricane Relief in memo line and send the donations to the CTCSC c/o Disaster Response, 3200 E. Rosedale St., Fort Worth, Texas, 76105.

Finally, everyone is reminded to not self-deploy – even those who are trained and badged ERT first responders. Please wait for us to be invited and to coordinate with the CTC Disaster Response Team. 

The Disaster Response Team leadership is scheduled for another round of conference calls with UMCOR and TX VOAD late Sunday (Aug. 27) afternoon. Please watch for updates following. If you have questions, please email gingerwatson@ctcumc.org