Disaster Response
Over and over in scripture, we are told that God hears our cries, that God sees suffering.  No; there is never a huge God hand that sweeps out of heaven to yank us to safety. Instead, over and over we are shown by the Compassionate, Merciful God that God’s response to suffering is for humans to itervene. When Moses encountered God in the burning bush, he heard God say, “I have seen the suffering of your people and heard their cries.” God does not say, “I’m going to fix it.” Instead, God says to Moses, “You are going to fix it!” There it is; it takes a human to intervene. Of course, Moses like many of us has several excuses why he cannot. “I stutter.” Was one of Moses’ excuses. God declares that is no reason. “Use your brother to talk for you.” God does not tolerate excuses. Despite our excuses for not doing so, we must respond! 
    Disaster Response really has two components; proactive, before the disaster and reactive, after the disaster.

Before a Disaster

It is better to be prepared and not need it than to not prepare and wish you had. What would you do if suddenly there is no power, no water, no communications, no heat, and no help from government agencies? Are you ready to spend 72 hours or more relying on your own resources while you wait for government agencies to restore services or for the evacuation shelters to open? In a major disaster or emergency it is likely that medical help could be delayed for many hours or even days. Do you know how to care for injuries when medical help is not available? There are many questions to ask, and to be prepared you need to have answers for each. The UMCOR Connecting Neighbors program helps families create a Family Disaster Response plan. It can help by identifying “Safe rooms”, escape routes, places to meet when you cannot return to your home, knowing your neighbors’ special needs and letting them know yours, store adequate supplies (water, non-perishable foods, batteries, flashlight, radio, etc., Written inventory of prescriptions, insurance policies, legal documents. Congregations that urge their members to prepare for disaster can reduce the impact on families.

After a Disaster

If the scope of the disaster is beyond the local church’s capability to respond, the Disaster coordinator can contact others in the Shawnee Valley to respond. We currently have 88 Trained Early Response Team Members or ERT’s. What do ERT’s Do? 
  • Provide a Christian presence… This does not sound like a task… and is NOT, however it can be the MOST important thing a team can do. After the Tornado struck the town of Moore, Oklahoma the response teams that rushed to the survivors did not ask them if they were Methodist, did not ask if they were even Christian, did not ask what lifestyle they lead, did not ask them if they were citizens. They treated everyone like the survivors they were. They were a shining example of the hands and feet of Christ in action.
  • Take steps to prevent further damage to a family’s personal property by tarping, debris removal, chainsaw work, cleaning out flooded homes. Teams must be careful not to perform work on a home that might jeopardize the survivor’s eligibility for assistance from insurance and/or government agencies. We are trained how much drywall to take out in a flooded home. If it floods 4” and we take out the whole wall FEMA may not pay for it all.
  • Teams may be asked to manage donated materials, gather information, or other things as deemed necessary by the community. Last July when the Wind Shear went through I went around and checked on Elderly folks without power to make sure they we staying as cool as possible and that they had water. You may be asked to man a food handout station.
  • Observe survivor’s needs and report these to the local operations. For some pride gets in the way of asking for help.
  • Be part of the caring ministry of “listeners” who will help the survivor begin to heal. Always put the people before the work. 

Listening to what the ERT’s do it is clear that anyone can be on a team. Teams need folks willing to do the labor but also someone responsible for helping find needed supplies, Site safety, are you the wife chasing her husband around the yard with a water bottle telling him to drink in hot weather? We need you. Are you a cook? We need you. Can you repair small equipment? We need you. Are you a grandparent type that loves children?  We need you.  Are you a listener; not necessarily a counselor or a pastor just a good listener? We need you. Anyone can be an ERT member! By being a volunteer, you can make a difference in the lives of others, and your life and faith will be forever changed. 

These programs are in cooperation with United Methodis Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM)


Relief Supply Kits (clean up bucket, health kits, bedding kit, health kit, birthing kit)

Donate to UMCOR through the West Ohio Conference




   Contact the District Office for details


Diana K Hall (dhall [at] wocumc.org)  740-851-5243

Gary Stabler (garyst2 [at] frontier.com)  740-384-3328