There are very few constants in this world. The sun rises in the east. The sun sets in the west. The people of the Central Texas Conference are eager and ready to assist their sisters and brothers in need following a natural or manmade 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. Click here to read more about the CTC's response and how you can help immediately.
Tornados hit the Lake Whitney area Sunday night, Jan.16, 2017. According to the National Weather Service, the EF-1 tornado brought winds of up to 90 miles per hour, mostly to the eastern side of Lake Whitney. Multiple homes were destroyed, and many more homes and businesses were damaged.
Central Texas Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, Rev. Laraine Waughtal, has put a call out for help from our CTC ERT Badged Teams. There are a lot of downed trees that need to be removed before we can even get to the homes. That being said, we are looking for chainsaw teams, those with trained Site Assessment folks, and those willing to remove debris.
CTC ERT and UMVIM teams are down to the final 10 homes in Williamson County, but they are up against a Feb. 28 deadline to close out the work. Volunteers and donations are very much needed so the remaining homes can be repaired and rebuilt in time. Please contact Juli Ivie, Williamson County Disaster Response volunteer coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-995-4058. On-the-job training is available.
Click on the video below to see a special message from Rev. Laraine Waughtal, CTC Disaster Response Coordinator, to any and all who might be able to help. To download and share this message with your church, click here and follow the download link below the video on that page.
Dear Friends, I am writing to call for a special offering to be taken in all of the local churches of the Central Texas Conference for flood relief efforts in our conference.
As you may be aware, significant flooding has occurred in Hood (Granbury) and Eastland County (Breckenridge and Cisco). As of the last report I’ve seen, more than 300 homes have been damaged – some completely - and that number is still rising. We have ERT teams already on the scene and actively working in Breckenridge and Granbury, and, as I write this letter, we are still in the accessing the situation phase in the Cisco area.
Rev. Laraine Waughtal, CTC Coordinator of Disaster Response/UMVIM, tells me that the majority of the damage has come from an unprecedented amount of torrential rainfall that affected a wide swath of Eastland and Hood counties, including areas that have never before flooded according to available records.
Given the urgency of the situation, I am requesting that this offering be received within the next month. While the immediate needs are primarily in and around the communities of Granbury, Breckenridge and Cisco, the Center for Mission support, through the office of Disaster Response, may use the money received for flood relief in other parts of the conference should the need arise in the next six months*.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has also pledged a $100k grant for immediate aid in flood relief. The UMCOR grant and the donations received via this special offering will be administered by Rev. Waughtal and the CTC Center for Mission Support in partnership with local officials and the United Methodist Churches in the affected areas. As has been our long-standing practice, relief will be made available to all persons and families affected, not just United Methodists.
Please send the money** received in the offering to the Central Texas Conference Service Center, Attn: Laraine Waughtal, 3200 E. Rosedale Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76105. Checks should be made out to Central Texas Conference and please note CTC Flood Relief on the check.
As I compose this letter, the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew come to mind, “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.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Mike Lowry
* All the money received will go directly to aid those affected by the flooding. No administration costs are deducted thanks to the One Great Hour of Sharing Special Offering traditionally received each March. The One Great Hour of Sharing offering 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.
**At this time, financial support is all that is being requested and received in support of the flood relief efforts. Please watch the conference website, Quick Notes and District-wide communications should a need for other items occur.
If you have questions or comments, please contact Laraine at email@example.com.
(Dec. 30) - Our Early Response teams have already been hard at work helping people find and packing up their belongings, tarping roofs and boarding up windows. We expect this work to be continuing for another week or two. We are waiting for Ellis County to clear us to really clear properties at some point, so concentrating on the Glenn Heights area. Glenn Heights is partly in our conference and partly in the North Texas Conference. However, due to the tornadoes that occurred in the Garland, Rowlett area we are working in partnership with the North Texas Conference and covering all of Glenn Heights for them. The Methodist Connectional system at its best! We are serving an area of at least 300 homes. That number will likely rise some.
So, please read through these instructions before clicking on the link for your registration.
Laraine Waughtal, disaster response coordinator for the Central Texas Conference, reports on the devastation caused by the nearly 30-inches of rain over the last week in Navarro County (Corsicana, Blooming Grove, Frost, etc.). While the damage is already bordering on overwhelming, there is still much more to come since early response teams are still unable to get to many of the more severely affected areas. More than 30 percent of the county's roads remain impassable due to high water or extreme flood damage. There is already a great need for assistance (with much more to come as the water recedes enough for crews to get to these still flooded areas) since much of the flooding occurred in areas with no history of flooding - thus many residents were severely under-insured or had no flood insurance. Click here to learn more about the situation and how you, your church and/or your small group can immediately help the recovery efforts.
Major flooding in Navarro County (Corsicana area) has resulted in the mobilization of the Central Texas Conference Early Response Teams (CTC ERT). We have been meeting with families and there is a tremendous need. We need a number of roofs tarped, muck outs and sheet rock and insulation removed. We have a place for everyone to stay at FUMC Corsicana that has four showers! Do NOT call them yourselves. Please use the link provided below for your team leader to register your team. We need an approximate number of people and when you can come. The only cost for you is your insurance, transportation and meals. Once you register we will contact you to confirm days, etc. We need teams starting to start working now! We will be working for a while.
Team leaders should click on the following to register https://ctc-reg.brtapp.com/Navarrocountyfloodingertregistration
On Saturday, November 7th, St. John the Apostle UMC joined other churches in Corsicana to provide aid to the victims of recent heavy rain in that community. The first step in the process is to tarp the roofs to stop the water from coming into the homes then remove water-soaked sheetrock from the ceilings to prevent mold and mildew. In coming months other crews will be going back to assist in the rebuilding process.
From the time a disaster happens and is made known, the CTC is in response mode. The CTC Disaster Response Coordinator, Laraine Waughtal, and the members of the Disaster Task Force begin monitoring the situations in our communities and across the state and the South Central Jurisdiction for that matter. They are in contact with city, county and state officials, our churches in the affected area and myriad others to learn first hand how we, as United Methodists, can be the hands and feet of Christ. Because the scene of a disaster is just that, a disaster, often times the immediate answer is "We'll let you know what we need as soon as we know."
Sometimes, the hardest part of disaster response is balancing what is being reported by media and what is actually happening on the ground. Watching the TV and reading online reports and Tweets can be deceiving about the scope of a disaster area, because often the details being reported are not complete or accurate.
However, our trained ERT and Disaster Response team members are in contact with those who do know what’s going on. As such, individuals and churches are reminded to be patient and don’t immediately respond to what you are seeing and hearing in the news. Of course that’s a big ask for compassionate Christians living in a 24-hour news cycle society, where reporters too often employ the “we have to be first with the story and we’ll get to the actual facts of the situation much later” method of (ahem) journalism. Just try and remember the following before you head to the nearest big box discount warehouse store to buy pallets of bottled water for those in need. By the time you hear of a disaster, the CTC Disaster Response team is
Because these disasters get so much news coverage, and Texans in general are a generous bunch, communities too often end up with the secondary disaster of having an abundance of donated goods that they can’t use and don’t have a place to store. And even the ones that do have storage capabilities probably are in no shape to handle the immediate influx of donations. They have to have time to organize themselves and work things out. We do not want to be a part of the problem by trying to be a too immediate part of the solution.
So, what can you do to help immediately following a disaster? Here are the top 5 actions you can do to immediately assist...
None of the above is meant to quell the passion and desire to help so often expressed by Central Texas Conference members and churches. That passion is why our Disaster Response Team works so hard and is so vital to our conference. However, it’s been proven time and time again that the best way to focus our conference call to assist those in need is by working through our connectional system, taking all the time and steps to adequately assess each disaster situation and then going in and providing the assistance needed, when it’s needed, where it’s needed and how it’s needed.