UPDATE: Wednesday Aug. 30 - Cleaning Buckets and ERTs 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 first. 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.