Methodist Agency Joins Newsweek's 'Big Names In Katrina Relief'

With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just past, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has one more achievement it can feel proud of in addition to the work done over the past year to support survivors.

UMCOR came sixth in Newsweek magazine’s “Big Names in Katrina Relief” after it raised a massive $64.5 million for hurricane relief. But not only did the organization excel in monetary funds, but United Methodist volunteers also clocked up thousands of hours in serving and contributing to recovery efforts. Meanwhile, $7.6 million-worth of relief supplies were also offered by the organization.

UMCOR is playing a major role in the ongoing Katrina recovery efforts as it heads a consortium with nine other organizations known as Katrina Aid Today.

The consortium received a boost for its work with a $66 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Association and Department of Homeland Security, which consists of international donations gathered after Katrina’s deadly strike on the Gulf Coast last year August.

The Rev. Tom Hazelwood, UMCOR executive secretary for U.S. disaster response, reflected on the scale of the destruction wrought by Katrina.

"In terms of geography and the number of people affected, we haven't had anything like that," he said.

Even though one year has passed, the recovery operation is only now entering into the long-term phase of recovery. "Programs are just now what I would call stabilized,” Hazelwood reported.

The disaster response head is optimistic that the relief process, although sure to be lengthy, is still on target.

"I hope that we can keep the attention of our church and volunteers on this for a good while," he said, noting that the Gulf Coast conferences already have experienced a drop-off in volunteers. "The need for volunteers is going to be great for a number of years."

Partners in Katrina Aid Today are Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, Lutheran Disaster Response, Episcopal Relief and Development, Volunteers of America, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Boat People SOS, National Disability Rights Network and Odyssey House of Louisiana.