Hurricane Frances Makes Landfall; UMCOR Organizes Relief Efforts

The outskirts of the massive Hurricane Frances hit the Florida coastline by the early afternoon, whipping palm fronds and trees across the streets and whipping waves onshore, Saturday, September 04, 2004. As residents brace themselves for what may be the biggest storm to hit the state, Christian groups are waiting patiently, organizing and planning relief efforts for immediate displacement following the storm’s passing.

According to the United Methodist Church’s relief agency, UMCOR, volunteers and workers have moved satellite telephones and generators from southwest to central Florida.

"They distribute generators to people who need them, and the phones are used for purposes of communication among the volunteer workers," said Linda Beher, communications director for UMCOR in New York.

UMCOR workers, similar to workers from nearly all denominations, dispatched their forces to Southwest Florida some two weeks ago to assist the victims of the deadly Hurricane Charley. According to the UMCOR, relief efforts in post-Charley Florida will remain in place while new efforts are being prepared for Frances.

Governor Jeb Bush also said similar remarks on Saturday, assuring Charley victims that “not a penny” will be deducted from the post-Charley effort. The governor also mentioned that the $2 billion in federal funds would not sufficiently cover the damages from the two hurricanes.

In the church arena, UMCOR has called on its 8 million congregation to give all they can for the relief efforts. Donations can be made, most preferably, in financial form, but can also be given through home-made flood recovery “kits”; These kits come complete with flood buckets, immediate water, food and cleaning supplies for the victims of Charley.

Financial donations, according to the UMCOR, will pay for the “initial response” as well as for pay for trained disaster workers. It will also allow the church to locate as many survivors as possible following the storm.
UMCOR also said people needing held can call, even if they are not United Methodists.

"The caller doesn’t have to be a United Methodist for UMCOR to respond” said Beher.

People needing help, as well as volunteers who want to assist in the relief effort, can call the Florida Storm Recovery Center after the storm. The center, operated by UMCOR and the Florida Conference, can be reached at (800) 282-8011, Ext. 149.

Donations may be made to UMCOR Advance #982410, "Hurricanes 2004," and dropped into church offering plates or mailed to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. People donating by credit card can call (800) 554-8583

For specific information about the relief efforts of a certain denomination, or to give to a different relief group, please contact Pauline J. Chang at Pauline@christianpost.com