Thousands of Sandy survivors know United Methodists care
Brooklyn firefighter Peter Vasquenz describes damage to his mother's home in the Staten Island borough of New York following Hurricane Sandy. Vasquenz had been ripping out waterlogged drywall and flooring.
One thousand Early Response Team members working in severely damaged homes on Long Island in New York alone.
Four thousand cleaning buckets handed directly to storm survivors in New Jersey's hardest-hit coastal towns—and thousands more given across the rest of the state.
Three thousand hot meals served from a single church in the devastated city of Crisfield, Md.
On Nov. 29, one month after Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast of the United States, it was possible to summarize The United Methodist Church's response in numbers. However, the statistics are everchanging as relief efforts continue in earnest.
And the numbers—impressive as they are—show only the tiniest facet of the story.
Sometimes, the number most on the minds of Hurricane Sandy survivors is one: them against the world—until the church touches their lives. As the church's response grows in numbers, each number is a person, treated with care.
In eastern Pennsylvania, a veteran of Desert Storm was without heat in his hurricane-damaged home until the church funded deliveries of oil.
Nearby, another woman, 80 years old, received help with clearing downed trees, and expressed her surprise that someone would actually reach out.
"Do you know what she said?" asked Deb DePrinzio, disaster response coordinator for the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference. "She said, 'You have restored my faith in humanity.'"
Volunteers at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Bay Head, N.J., served more than 10,000 meals in the first month after Hurricane Sandy.w
In Bay Head, N.J., it was one woman who spent her days at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, which served 10,000 meals in the first month after Sandy barreled through the beach town.
"She comes in here and sits here most of the day. She's frightened to be in her home," said church member Ken Jacobsen, who, in late November, still ate dinner every day at the church before going back to work repairing his damaged home.
Looking around, he reflected, "There are a lot of people who have met their neighbors here for the first time."
The Rev. Tom Hazelwood (second from right) of the United Methodist Committee on Relief leads a prayer for homeowners, family members and church volunteers at a home damaged by floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy in Massapequa, N.Y., on Long Island. The group wears heavy clothing against the cold because the home is without power.
So many facets of the Hurricane Sandy response are still unfolding that a snapshot portrayal is difficult to capture. In countless, priceless ways, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is sending hurricane survivors the message that the church will continue to offer relief, even while planning for long-term recovery that will take, not months but, years.
In eastern North Carolina, disaster response coordinator Cliff Harvell still has 350 requests for assistance from Hurricane Irene—2011's disaster but today's burden for many people.
"Here, we can see how the church responds to immediate needs and also responds over the longterm," he said. "We've got teams rebuilding homes here in the wake of Hurricane Irene, and yet we were still able to send (early response teams) to New Jersey to help relief efforts there."
Susan Kim is a journalist and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org, where this article originally appeared.
Where donations are going
As of Nov. 29, UMCOR had issued the following grants to help Hurricane Sandy survivors directly. Additional grants will continue to support immediate relief as well as long-term recovery.
$10,000 The Methodist Church of Cuba
$10,000 North Carolina Annual Conference
$60,000 New York Annual Conference
Give funds to assist Hurricane Sandy survivors through UMCOR Advance #3021787—Hurricanes 2012. Online gifts may be made through www.umcor.org, click on "Donate." Make credit card donations by calling (888) 252-6174. Make gifts by check through local United Methodist churches or send to Advance GCFA, P. O. Box 9068 GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. Include the Advance number and name on your check.
How to help with the recovery
UMCOR Advance #3021787—Hurricanes 2012 (funds given will directly help survivors of Hurricane Sandy and other storms of the 2012 season).
UMCOR Advance #901670—U.S. Disaster Response (helps support training of Early Response Teams and means to respond immediately).
Visit www.umcor.org and click on "donate." See instructions for giving by credit card or check on page 12.
Make cleaning buckets and health kits to replenish supplies at the Sager-Brown Depot in Louisiana, the UMCOR West depot in Utah and other distribution centers. Instructions for assembling and shipping
Watch annual conference websites and inform disaster response coordinators in the affected conferences of your availability when they are scheduling work teams to help with the recovery:
Greater New Jersey Conference: www.gnjumc.org, click on "Sandy Relief" in the top navigation bar, DisasterResponse@gnjumc.org.
Pray some more.