What's Next for Survivors of Harvey


Don Remick

9/5/2017

In the spring of 2010, eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island were hit by two storms. Each delivered over a foot of rain. We worked for over two years following those floods helping oversee long-term recovery. Here’s what we learned.

In national disasters, faith-based organizations, non profits and government agencies have worked out a division of labor. Like the body of Christ metaphor, each organization and agency takes on a role that contributes to the whole of disaster recovery. In Texas and Louisiana, search and rescue work will continue, coordinated by local agencies. As flood waters recede some groups will come in for ‘muck out’ work. Some faith-based organizations have taken on the role of initial post-flood clean up.  They have invested in the equipment and training to come in and clean out flood damaged belongings and house materials. They’ll clean and sanitize. Other faith-based groups will follow to determine estimates for repair or demolition and replacement.

During all of this, other groups will help homeowners begin the process and paperwork needed for insurance claims and government assistance through FEMA. Still others will begin to form Long Term Recovery Groups to work with homeowners as they live into the new normal that follows a disaster. Their work begins and continues long after the camera crews have left. In Massachusetts, it was our UCC that helped form and lead the Long Term Recovery Groups.  
 
How can you help:
Two articles this week from our national UCC and NaVOAD (National Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster) will give you updates and advice on ways to help. You can find them here and here

There will be an increasing need for cleanup buckets through Church World Service. Read our article on this to learn about the collection in our MACUCC.

Here’s why we encourage you to send funds through the UCC:

  1. Because of the giving of our churches to Our Church’s Wider Mission and United Church Missions we already have the administrative system in place. So 100% of the funds you send will be used to assist survivors recover.
  2. The UCC works in close collaboration with partner agencies active in disaster to ensure that there are no duplication of benefits, gaps in relief and wasted materials or efforts.
  3. Our UCC has a long history of ministry on behalf of the most vulnerable and marginalized of our society. These are the folks often hardest hit by disasters and the ones who face the most challenges in recovery. Our UCC will work to do everything possible to ensure that no one falls through gaps in the process or safety nets. 
  4. Our UCC will work closely with the Conference and local churches in the disaster impacted region. Those eyes and ears on the ground provide unique and invaluable perspective on the needs of folks in the area. 
Keep an eye on Irma
There is another hurricane which has already reached Category 5 before it makes landfall.  The islands of the region are in its sights, and then it will continue, possibly having impact all along the east coast, possibly striking here in New England as well.  This is a powerful storm and we’ll be watching as it slams into the islands and the coast.

You can learn more about hurricane preparedness here and here. No matter where it makes landfall, there is tremendous potential for destruction. And as a people of Jesus Christ, we will respond.

Rev. Don Remick
Associate Conference Minister for the South East Area and Church Development

 



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