Emergency Preparedness: A Reason to Give Sunday, July 28


By Tamica Smith-Jeuitt, Senior Communications Specialist

As recent as July 8, 2013, the disaster response coordinator for the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church, Rev. Wayne Napier was accepting calls from people affected by early spring storms.  He said the latest request was from an elderly couple in Yazoo City that is 
Worker posting sign
Volunteer posts signage after  
Hattiesburg tornado, February 2013.
now renting a home after strong winds sent a huge tree crashing through their house.  The couple does not have insurance and cannot afford to remove the tree or make necessary repairs to return to the home they own. Adding to their frustration, their community was not declared a disaster area, which would have given them access to federal funds for home and property repairs. 
"So that leaves it to folks like the United Methodists and other organizations to help those people get back to where they need to be," said Napier, who has served in his position for the last five years. He adds that through the generosity of United Methodists and the Mississippi Conference Emergency Preparedness Fund, he was able to inform the couple help was on the way.
Sign of Hope
Damaged fence serves as a 
sign of hope following Hattiesburg 2013 tornado.
On Sunday, July 28, Mississippi United Methodists will have an opportunity to replenish and increase the conference emergency preparedness fund during a Special Sunday Offering. The emergency preparedness fund allows Napier and his team to respond to those with disaster-caused needs and provide training for new emergency response team volunteers.
That is our immediate source of funds for ongoing preparedness work. It helps pay for our training we conduct all over the Mississippi Conference, it allows us to move relief materials around as well."

Through the support of conference giving United Methodist contributes hygiene kits, cleaning kits, tarps, tools, building materials, training supplies and feeding for volunteers in disasters.
Napier said he has more than 100 local volunteers. Fran Fuller, a 67 year-old widow caring for her parents and a teenage granddaughter, is one of the newest volunteers. She's trained to assess the damage and needs of disaster victims. She's also a member of Cambridge UMC in Abbeville and explains her reason for spending long hours training to help.
File photo of Rev. Wayne Napier in small group disaster training.
"To help other people is one of the most beautiful things anybody can do, it doesn't have to be a disaster it can be anywhere.  I remember when people
helped me when I had problems with my car," she said.
When it comes to volunteers, Napier considers all 180,000 plus members of the Mississippi United Methodist Church part of the emergency response team that makes it possible for him and Fuller to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

"They may never go to training, they may never know anything about what we do, but if they support a local United Methodist church they support us," he said. 

The  Mississippi Conference Emergency Preparedness Fund is not part of the conference budget. The emergency response team relies on the kindness of those giving their money and talents to fulfill its mission in Mississippi and beyond. Last year's Special Sunday offering for emergency preparedness collected less than two hundred dollars according to the conference treasures office. While grateful for every penny, Napier is optimistic Mississippi churches can give more.

Napier reminds everyone that June 1 marked the start of 2013 hurricane season that runs through November 30. He is encouraging everyone to know their emergency plan and to set aside monetary gifts to fund emergency preparedness during offering time Sunday, July 28, 2013.

Individuals should give their checks through their church designated for the emergency preparedness offering.  Churches can remit these amounts with their regular monthly Mission Shares.  Non-Mississippi United Methodist can submit their offerings to:  Mississippi Conference, P.O. Box 1063, Jackson, MS 39215-1603.

 More On How United Methodists Help Victims of Disasters

The Mississippi Conference disaster response team closely follows the guidelines of The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) when bringing aid to the most helpless when disasters strike. 
UMCOR comes into play with flood buckets, tarps, health kits, spiritual care, etc. immediately following any disaster. The bishop, the disaster response coordinator and the director of connectional ministries can request an emergency $10,000 grant that the conference can use as necessary to assist victims; however, funds are primarily given to those with no insurance on their homes.  It does not go to renters.

Residents affected by any storm need to contact their insurance company, apply for FEMA and then enter the Long Term Recovery group in their area that will address unmet needs of those who had no coverage, those whose insurance didn't cover everything and those who have no means to recover (no/low-income).