New York, NY (GBGM) - The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is assisting recovery in 13 states either directly affected by 2005 hurricanes or hosting hurricane evacuees. Some $24 million has so far been contributed by church members and friends for Advance #982523, Hurricanes 2005. Still more effort and more funds will be required to respond to this year’s horrific storms, especially Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The $24 million mark in contributions was reached at the end of November, according to Roland Fernandes, treasurer of the General Board of Global Ministries, of which UMCOR is a part.
Where the money goes
The UMCOR board of directors voted to disperse funds to affected annual conferences for hurricane relief and recovery according to their expressed immediate needs at its fall board meeting. The funds released to Mississippi and Louisiana are for use only in the initial months following the hurricane because the size of this disaster prevents UMCOR from foreseeing all of the possibilities for need. More funds will be sent to these annual conferences as additional needs are made known.
Alabama-West Florida (12 months) $914,000
Mississippi (6 months) $1,397,289
Louisiana (6 months) $2,052,221
This is in addition to $10,000 emergency grants that UMCOR sent to 18 United Methodist national mission institutions in eight states - including four in Mississippi - for immediate relief work. UMCOR also sent $10,000 emergency grants to 11 annual conferences - including Mississippi - serving evacuees.
Clean up - UMCOR purchased and dispersed $85,543 in clean-up supplies (mops, brooms, buckets, etc.).
Consultants - UMCOR has placed 16 domestic disaster consultants, some full time in the field, to provide guidance to annual conferences in setting up their call service centers and long-term recovery programs. The cost of their deployment as of Nov. 16 was $126,547.
Partner Agencies - UMCOR sent $50,000 to support Church World Service’s evacuee resettlement program.
International - This year’s storms also caused great tragedies in Central America. Thus far UMCOR has sent $69,095 to local partner organizations in Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador.
Establishing a long-term response
UMCOR’s specialty is long-term relief and recovery work. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, UMCOR estimates that "long term" will translate to upwards of six years, particularly in hard-hit areas of Louisiana and Mississippi.
UMCOR works through annual conferences in each affected area. While UMCOR is providing training, consultant support, and funding to help each annual conference provide all of these services, it still takes time to set up an effective system to respond over the long term. The magnitude of the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina means that what would seem like significant strides for recovery in other hurricanes appear to be only drops in the bucket in response to this one.