Disaster Grant Aids Thousands in Recovery


Matthew Johnson Connectional Ministries and Communications Assistant

Two years ago, we announced that the Mississippi Conference was the recipient of a two-year, $3 million grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to help the conference set up two recovery regions that included 16 of the hardest hit counties in the conference. As the grants monies and specified time of service comes to a close, the two regional recovery managers share what’s been done thanks to your generosity, and where more help is needed for those impacted by disaster. 

According to data by UMCOR monitor and evaluation specialist, Robyn Jackson, here’s how conference disaster recovery faired with reaching the goals of the grant. The grant aimed to:

  • Empower survivors in their recovery and inspire resiliency
  • Refer 1,000 household to needed resources. UMCOR exceeded the goal and referred 1,132 households for resources.
  • Repair a minimum of 300 homes. There are 300 homes in the process of being repaired or replaced, and UMCOR has helped relocate 132 homes.
  • Recruit 300 volunteer construction teams to assist with repairs. Due to safety precautions caused the coronavirus pandemic only 97 volunteer teams have been recruited.
  • Engage a minimum of 1,000 volunteers. To date, more than 1,300 volunteers have been engaged
  • Outreach to 2,000 households impacted by 2019 weather events. More information on outreach will be forthcoming. 

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) 2021 has had a very busy year. UMCOR case managers were assisting people who had been hit by hurricanes and tornados and continuing the clean-up effort after a historic Delta flood. With the help of donors, volunteer groups and local churches, UMCOR was able to close more than 70 percent of their open cases. As we head into a new year, there is still much work to be done, and multiple ways you can help restore Mississippians affected by disaster.
UMCOR volunteers
put a tarp in place.

The east side of the state is recovering from damage caused by Hurricane Ida and Zeta in addition to tornado damage. UMCOR case managers are assisting families in Pearl River, George, Jones, Covington, Perry and Greene Counties.

“It’s UMCOR’s mission to be one of the first in and the last out,” said East Mississippi Regional Recovery Manager, Rev. Anzette Thomas. “Meaning it is our hope that none will fall through the cracks in the continuous flow of natural disasters.”

The western side of Mississippi is rebuilding from Hurricanes Delta and Ida and repairing damage from the South Delta flood.

“We are five cases away from closing the South Delta flooding from two years ago,” said Chris Zirlott the west Mississippi Regional Recovery Manager. “We are still dealing with damage from Hurricane Delta and Ida along the gulf coast.”

There are more than ninety open cases awaiting resolution. Also, eight counties along the Gulf Coast have been declared disaster areas due to the recent damage from Hurricane Ida. The only way UMCOR can provide needed assistance to affected Mississippians is with the support of monetary donations and volunteer labor from churches and volunteer groups.

“We need monetary donations because of the coronavirus we can’t have as much volunteer labor as we’ve had in the past. Donations will allow us to hire local contractors,” said Zirlott.

Rev. Thomas sees an opportunity for local churches to assist more in recovery efforts.

“Our local Churches should be aware of the great opportunity they have to be the hearts, hands and feet of Christ in both early response and long-term recovery efforts. After the emergency phase of the disaster all media attention goes away.  It’s easy to forget those who are still living in the wake of the storm. The need for teams of volunteers from our local churches is an ongoing need in the recovery process,” said Thomas.

When it comes to the work of disaster recovery The Mission Continues. Disaster events are all too common, but they also provide an opportunity for churches and their members to restore hope and let families know they are cared for during trying times. UMCOR is pleased that they were able to meet most of the goals of the grant and provide much needed relief to hard-hit Mississippians.

Visit the Mississippi United Methodist Conference’s disaster response website here and discover ways you and your church can help. Monetary donations can be sent to:
MS Conference Mission Shares
P.O. Box 1603
Jackson, MS 39215
*You can note in the memo line of your checks that this is for “Hurricane Ida Disaster Response”
One hundred percent of your donation benefits those impacted by disaster and none of it goes toward administrative fees.

UMCOR volunteers
make paint repairs to a
house in Jones County.

320 Briarwood Drive
Jackson, MS 39206
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