United Methodist works helping neighbors
Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2010 9:07 pm
Disaster Relief Teams of the United Methodist Church are at work throughout West Tennessee in response to flooding and tornadoes that hit the western part of the state in early May.
The Disaster Relief Teams are a ministry of the Memphis Conference of the United Methodist Church. The conference includes more than 85,000 United Methodists in 462 churches in West Tennessee and western Kentucky.
Since the disaster hit, three of the conference’s five disaster relief teams have been at work in Southtown, a section of Dyersburg, Millington, Memphis and Jackson, all areas affected by flooding, and in McNairy County that was hit by a half-mile wide tornado that traveled the county from its southwest to northeast corners. Bishop Richard J. Wills Jr., the Episcopal leader of United Methodists in West and Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky toured the disaster area on Thursday and Friday, May 13 and 14.
“A lot of people are struggling and in a lot of pain,” Wills said as he spoke to families who had been flooded from their homes in Millington, TN. In Selmer, he shook hands with many of the United Methodist volunteers helping to remove debris left by a tornado that ravaged the town.
“This is important Kingdom work,” Wills said to Terry Cuff, co-leader of the team helping Selmer residents. He added that he had lived through several hurricanes when he served a church in Florida. “These disasters give us the opportunity to come along and be the good neighbors God wants us to be.” Wills toured Dyer County, Millington, Selmer and Purdy in McNairy County, and homes flooded in Jackso.
All but three counties in West Tennessee — Weakley, Henry and Lake — have been declared natural disaster areas and are eligible for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to Bill Carr, Memphis Conference disaster relief coordination.
Disaster relief teams are made of up volunteers from United Methodist churches who organize to offer early response, recovery and rebuilding to persons and communities affected by disasters, explained Carr. The teams provide labor, equipment and supplies for cleanup, as well as emergency relocation assistance.
Of the three teams at work since the disaster struck, the Area I team is based in Memphis, the Area III team is based in Camden and Paris, and the Area IV team is from western Kentucky. Two other teams, one drawn from volunteers in the Dyersburg area and one from the Jackson area, are preparing to deploy.
“Our teams and volunteers are available for short- and long-term needs in the wake of this disaster,” said Carr.
To help the disaster relief teams locate individuals and communities in West Tennessee that need help, the Memphis Conference has established two call centers, one at the Memphis Conference office in Jackson and one at Millington First United Methodist Church in Millington.
Volunteers and staff are now manning phones from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The numbers to call for assistance are 877-345-8480 (toll-free) for residents throughout West Tennessee, except Millington area residents who should call 901-872-4414.
Buckets with cleaning supplies for victims of recent storms are being distributed by the Memphis Conference of the United Methodist Church in Millington, Jackson and Dyersburg. There is no charge to recipients.
The buckets are being distributed:
JACKSON: From the gymnasium at Northside United Methodist Church in Jackson, TN Monday through Thursday, May 17-20, from 9 a.m. to1 p.m. The church is located at 2571 North Highland in Jackson.
DYERSBURG: At Amteck Electrical in Dyersburg, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call the Rev. Robert Craig, associate pastor at Dyersburg’s First United Methodist Church, to arrange pickup. Amteck Electrical is located at 1106 East Court St.
MILLINGTON: In Millington, the flood buckets are being distributed from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. from the Flame Center of the First United Methodist Church, 8029 Wilkinsville Road.
Included in the 5-gallon buckets of cleaning supplies, each valued at $55, are bleach, five scouring pads, seven sponges, one scrub brush, 18 cleaning towels (reusable wipes), liquid laundry detergent, one household cleaner, disinfectant dish soap, 50 clothes pins, clothes line, five dust masks, two pairs latex gloves, one pair work gloves, 24-bag roll of heavy-duty trash bags, one insect repellant spray, and one air freshener.
Donations for recovery efforts throughout West Tennessee may be sent to Memphis Conference Treasurer, United Methodist Church, PO Box 10667, Jackson, TN 38308-0111 clearly marked for MAC 2010 Flood and Tornado Recovery. All donations will be used to help flood and tornado survivors to recover.wcp 5-20-10