Our hurricane Irma Story
Hurricane Irma engulfed the entire state of Florida becoming the biggest and mostly costly storm in Florida’s history. It has been a long and challenging road since Irma made landfall in September 2017 and The United Methodist Church continues to provide leadership throughout the conference during the long journey of recovery.
The Florida Conference received $9 million in UMCOR grants to help us set up 5 recovery regions in 15 of the hardest hit counties of the conference. We hired case managers, construction coordinators, volunteer coordinators and other staff to partner with those survivors who often “fall through the cracks” – families and individuals who may be uninsured, underinsured, or – for whatever reason - simply do not have the resources to recover without assistance.
While staff are important to initiate and guide the work, it is truly the survivor who has been impacted, and you, members of our local churches, who make the recovery happen. Whether you fund the work with your dollars, fuel the work with your prayers or do the work with your hands – each of you has a vital role to play in this 3-5 year recovery.
And then came Maria, bringing thousands of stunned and frightened people to Florida as they fled devastation on the island of Puerto Rico. Some estimates say as many as 50,000 people have come to Florida since Maria.
With a $500,000 grant from UMCOR, the Florida Conference has partnered with First UMC Kissimmee, the Community Hope Center and others in Osceola and Pine Ridge Fellowship/Community Life Center in Volusia County to provide case management for evacuees from Puerto Rico. In the first three months these case managers assisted 138 households with referrals, $6500 of in-kind donations and nearly $27,000 in direct assistance. We are also partnering with UMCOR case managers on the island to assist those in Florida wanting to return to Puerto Rico and we will continue this work through the end of 2018. The Florida Conference is also sending teams to assist with rebuilding in Puerto Rico.
About Disaster Recovery Ministry
The mission of Disaster Recovery Ministry is to resource and equip local United Methodist Churches and districts as they assist their communities and individuals to prepare, respond and recover from disaster.
The goal of the Disaster Recovery Ministry is to effectively manage the resources available to our churches when disaster strikes: information, supplies, volunteers and financial assistance. Disaster Recovery works closely with the local church, the district, local emergency management and other responding organizations and agencies to ensure clear lines of communication and effective coordination of resources.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is our partner, providing expert guidance and training related to disaster planning, preparation, response and recovery. United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) are also our partners providing training and guidance in volunteer management as well as trained volunteer teams - from both inside and outside the conference -- to work in disaster.
The Florida Conference, UMCOR and UMVIM are NOT “first responders” in the event of a storm or other disaster. First response is the responsibility of the trained professionals — firefighters, police, EMS and other county, state and federal personnel. Once the first responders have given the okay, the Disaster Recovery Ministry deploys trained volunteers and volunteer teams to begin the relief process of cleanup and debris removal, as well as information and referral, spiritual care and, eventually, the more challenging process of long-term recovery.
As the body of Christ, the church is there with diverse people in many settings to offer loving, compassionate support throughout the recovery process.