By Susanne Gill
Storms, trials and struggles in life are often defining moments. They are the times when we find what we are made of and we discover how God has prepared us and those around us in advance for the tasks at hand. This has been evidenced in the activation of the church in the two weeks after Hurricane Isaac impacted South Mississippi. After local officials cleared the areas the local church moved into action, the witness of neighbor helping neighbor touched lives and planted seeds of hope in the hearts of the community.
At this point the local church leadership which includes Seashore District Superintendent - Reverend Heather Henserling, MSCOR Program Coordinator / Camp Love Site Facilitator - Beth Dean, Seashore District Disaster Coordinator - Reverend Scott Wright, Mississippi Disaster Coordinator - Reverend Wayne Napier, has assumed their roles of working on the initial phase of assessing homes and receiving requests for assistance.
This process is still very much underway -- as of September 14th FEMA reported 17,687 registrations for assistance. Approximately 12,000 of those are in Harrison, Hancock, Jackson and Pearl River counties. While the heart of volunteers is to help everyone, the MSCOR and UMCOR are serving as a bridge working with other agencies to insure all needs are met efficiently and effectively with each organization maximizing skill-sets and resources. UMCOR and local UM Disaster Response focuses on low income, single parent, elderly and disabled -- what society may view as the marginalized.
Reverend Scott Wright reported that as of September 17th Jackson County has already had 111 volunteers, working in 34 individual homes reaching 134 residents and investing 736 man hours. While much has been done there is still much to be done and volunteers are greatly needed. Groups wishing to be a part of the clean-up process with respect to mucking out houses and clearing debris are needed at this point primarily in Jackson County, Hancock County and Picayune.
In the weeks to come the call will be going out for those wanting to be a part of the rebuilding process and construction phase.
For groups interested in being a part of the recovery and clean-up process please use the following contact information:
Beth Dean: 866-435-7091
Camp Love: 228-539-9332
There are lodging options available in the area for volunteers. Please contact the locations directly to coordinate group housing.
• Caswell Springs UMC: 228-588-6546
• St. Paul's UMC - Ocean Springs: 228-875-5701
• Safe Harbor UMC: 228-475-4833
• Camp Victor - Lutheran Response - Jon Biggs: 228-875-0313
Pearl River County
• Picayune FUMC: 601-798-4321
• Manna Ministries: 601-799-2121
• Byrd's Chapel: 601-772-9972
• Camp Love
13183C John Clark Road | Gulfport, MS 39503
$15 per day/per volunteer includes meals and lodging
228-539-9332 or 866-435-7091
• Camp Heritage
Heritage UMC | Biloxi, MS 39531
Sheila Gillies: 228-861-6039
• Seashore United Methodist Assembly
1410 Leggett Drive | Biloxi, MS 39530
Housing and Meal plans are available.
As the affected areas continue the recovery process we know that God has already been faithful to place the desire to serve, walk along side and rebuild on the hearts of His people. In the months to come, the selfless acts of His obedient servants will not only rebuild communities but expand His Kingdom.