This afternoon, Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner, the Rev. Charlie Wilfong, South District Superintendent, and the Rev. Dave Powell, Indiana Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, will be touring areas of southern Indiana devastated by the recent storms. Hopefully, Tom Hazelwood, Associate General Secretary and Director of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, will join the group.

In the meantime, The Indianapolis Star this morning had a picture of Pekin United Methodist Church volunteers sorting food, clothing and supplies for survivors of Friday’s tornadoes, which carved a swath through New Pekin. Relief effort volunteers drove from as far as Crown Point in Northwestern Indiana. You can read the story and see the pictures here. Check out more stories and videos at Courier-Journal .com and News and Tribune.com.

During the weekend, there have been several more deaths, injuries, homes destroyed and many more damaged. The Governor has signed a disaster declaration so aid is being recruited. Tom Hazelwood with UMCOR has called to offer support and help. At this point we have more questions than direct answers, but we are preparing for when it is appropriate for us to respond.

Any offerings received this past weekend for Indiana Disaster Response needs to be sent by church treasurers directly to INUMC, Dept. 6089, Carol Stream, IL 60122-6089and marked “Disaster Response.”

Here are immediate needs

Donations:

Cash is the most helpful gift right now. Send donation to the Indiana Conference Disaster Response through your local church treasurer, or through the United Methodist Committee on Relief online at www.umcor.org.

For southern Indiana in-kind donations, take them to 700 Patrol Road, Jeffersonville, Indiana off HWY 62 Open 24/7 Office phone 812-287-0090; 812-287-0026. Items needed include:

  • Safety supplies
  • Gloves, work
  • Gloves nitrile
  • N95 masks
  • Dust masks
  • Tubs for supplies

Volunteers

Call the reception center before you leave home as volunteer needs are still being assessed. The Volunteer Reception Center is located at 723 Spring Street in Jeffersonville, Ind. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 812-287-0519, 812-287-0522, 812-287-0523 or 812-287-0521. Right now, the Volunteer Reception Center needs people with disaster response training.

Next week, disaster response personnel will probably be ready for Volunteer in Mission groups for clean-up and repair, and will need to go through Bonnie Albert, our Conference Volunteers in Mission Coordinator. Contact here at bonkay@hotmail.com; bonpotee@yahoo.com or call 219-464-1447.

The District Superintendents and District Disaster Response Coordinators are already in the areas and will be specific on the most helpful ways for us to respond. Prepare to help when appropriate. Powell told the Indiana Conference Center this morning that only trained (and badged) Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) are being accepted into the area. If you are UMCOR-trained and would like to volunteer to help, contact Powell at david.powell@inumc.org; davidpowell@danvilleumc.org or call 317-339-0013 (cell).

Next week, disaster response personnel will probably be ready for Volunteers in Mission groups for clean-up and repair, and will need to go through Bonnie Albert, our Conference Volunteers in Mission Coordinator. Contact her at bonkay@hotmail.com, bonpotee@yahoo.com or call 219-464-1447.

Here are a couple of do’s and don’ts on how to respond:

DON’T

  • Don’t just go to the scene to help! They are still in emergency phase and rescuing those in need. Untrained persons, no matter how caring, will only hinder rescue efforts.
  • If you want to see what has happened, watch TV and/or look at the web. Traffic is already bad and cellular bandwidths are jammed.
  • Don’t send clothing until asked. Responders and survivors probably won’t be able to sort it or use it at this time.

DO

  • Pray for the people and areas affected and the First Responders on the scene.
  • Donate to the Indiana Disaster Response offering for the Indiana Annual Conference or donate directly to UMCOR online at www.umcor.org.
  • Do plan to help when the area opens to responders.
  • If you are trained as an Early Response Team (ERT) member, begin planning, forming your team and gathering gear.
  • If you are good at hammer and nails, plan on responding in a week or so as needs are identified and prioritized.
  • Volunteer opportunities will be announced on the conference web page under disaster response and VIM as information becomes available.
  • Pray again.

PRAYER:

O God, as always we turn to You in times of trouble, knowing that Your loving care covers our lives like a hovering dove. You are already weeping with those who weep, You are already comforting those who have lost loved ones or valuables, and You are the One who promises that nothing can separate us from Your love. So we turn to You, O Lord, praying for those who are victims of the storms and asking for safety for those who remain behind. May the strength of our human efforts to help them be surrounded by Your divine strength and compassion. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thank you for your generous response to this need.