May 9, 2003: UMCOR continues to monitor and respond to the storms and floods that have walloped the nation this week. A record-breaking 225 tornadoes have struck the Midwest and South since Sunday, May 4.
Volunteers Bob and Cherri Baer and UMCOR Disaster Response Coordinator Tom Hazelwood are making assessments in Kansas and Missouri. A Federal Declaration for seven counties in Kansas has been made. Hardest hit were Crawford and Cherokee counties in the southeast. A third of the town of Franklin was destroyed. In Missouri, at least 18 people have died; eight are still missing. A Federal Declaration was given for seventeen counties. Hardest hit were Pierce City and Stockton. On Tuesday, a second wave of storms caused extensive damage at DeSoto. An initial grant has been sent by UMCOR. UMCOR is also coordinating the shipment of cleaning supplies from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Warehouse.
UMCOR and conference personnel are also assessing needs in the wake of storm-related emergencies in Tennessee, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. President Bush has made emergency declarations for multiple counties in Tennessee, where 15 people have died and two are missing. One tornado not only cut a 65-mile path across the state but also inflicted heavy damage on the city of Jackson. UMCOR has sent an emergency grant to assist in the clean up. Volunteer teams are being accepted. In Illinois two people were killed and at least seven were injured on Tuesday in the second wave of severe storms. Tornadoes struck in four counties. On Thursday night, Oklahoma City area's evening rush hour became another setting of devastation as at least one tornado did widespread damage and injured 118 people. Moore, the site of a devastating tornado in 1999 was hardest hit town in Oklahoma. Homes were also destroyed in Arkansas where UMCOR is in conversation with Bishop Janice Huie about UMCOR's response.
UMCOR has established Advance #901680 "Spring Storms 2003" to respond to the storm-related emergencies of this spring season. Your contributions of money and service make it possible for UMCOR to respond quickly to disasters such as these. You can volunteer by calling UMCOR's Volunteer Line at 1-800-918-3100.
Last week an earthquake struck Bingöl, Turkey. UMCOR has sent an emergency grant of $10,000 from the Turkey Earthquake fund to a partner agency, the International Blue Crescent (IBC). IBC is providing food, clothing, and other assistance. You can help by giving to Advance #675205-6.
UMCOR continues to respond to the needs in Iraq. Guy Hovey, an UMCOR staffer seconded to Action by Churches Together (ACT) for work in communication, reports that a convoy of six trucks has delivered relief items to Baghdad. The items were contributed by ACT members and transported by UMCOR's partner, the Middle East Council of Churches. You can help by contributing to Advance #623225-4 "Iraq Emergency."
UMCOR provides emergency relief in many areas of the world. To find out more about UMCOR's ministries, please visit umcor.org. You can donate to any project by placing a contribution in the offering plate at a local United Methodist church; by sending a check to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068; or by calling 1-800-554-8583, where credit card donations are accepted. UMCOR is exempt from tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States and qualifies for the maximum charitable contribution deduction by donors.
And, please pray for those who are hungry, displaced, sick or in poverty because of these and other natural and human-made disasters, and for the workers who minister to them.