Special to the Advocate
You may have heard of them, but what exactly is a flood bucket?
It is a collection of cleaning supplies and safety equipment, all packed into a reusable 5-gallon plastic bucket. Flood buckets are one way to mobilize church members and others to respond to immediate needs in the aftermath of a hurricane, tropical storm or flood. Many are familiar with the flood bucket and have participated in their collection and storage on their way to those in need following any number of disasters.
The need for flood buckets knows no denomination. In that spirit, a new partnership has been developed. While details are still being finalized, the groups will share collection and distribution resources.
“After working closely with (Lutheran Episcopal Services in Mississippi) on a number of initiatives, responses and recovery efforts, we felt that this flood bucket ministry was a natural partnership,” said C.J. Caufield, state coordinator for the Mississippi United Methodist Disaster Relief.
“This partnership among the Episcopalians, United Methodists and Lutheran congregations will help build more capacity to serve the vulnerable population - the last, the least, and the lost in Mississippi,” said Sandra Braasch, LESM director of Disaster Preparedness and Response.
Bishops from the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and ELCA -Southeastern Synod, expressed their excitement about this partnership.
“Flood buckets are tangible signs of prayers, love and support. The simple, necessary things in the buckets are gifts that lift the hearts of those who face cleaning out, cleaning up and rebuilding. Thank you for joining the flood of compassion as you assemble flood buckets for someone who will receive the blessing,” said Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi Conference.
“Part of the definition of a sacrament is that it is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace,” said Bishop Duncan M. Gray, III of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. “Flood buckets could be viewed in such a manner. It is my hope that this joint ministry will bless many lives and remind us of our common call to serve one another, especially in times of crisis.”
Bishop H. Julian Gordy of the ELCA-Southeastern Synod added: In collecting and assembling the simple articles that fill flood buckets, United Methodists, Episcopalians and Lutherans are not only sharing our resources with Mississippians recovering from disaster, but are also giving witness to the unity we share in Christ Jesus, who calls us together serve our neighbors.”
In early 2009, a drive throughout Mississippi for congregations to collect resources for and assemble the flood buckets is planned. Along with flood buckets, UMCOR relief kits include: bedding kits; health kits; school kits; sewing kits, and bulk relief supplies (http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/getconnected/supplies/).
Collection points are being developed within each United Methodist district and three longer-term storage facilities throughout the state have been identified. “We also regularly transport these to Sager Brown, our domestic and international warehouse in Baldwin, La. Although there will be an annual drive for relief kits, we receive them all year long. Disasters know no bounds,” Caufield said.
Due to the popularity of the many relief kits that UMCOR collects, God has sent a servant-couple in Rex and Brenda Hiatt who handle the relief kit ministry. Those who can provide storage space in their district or who have any other questions, may contact Brenda Hiatt at 601-626-7902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.