Disaster Update: How to be Helpful


Don Remick

9/11/2017

Psalm 57:1
“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings
I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.”

 
We’ve been watching the images.  We’ve been watching that red ‘cone’ of the path of Irma.  We’ve been watching updates: “miles per hour”, categories, millibars, storm surge, tornado warnings.  We’ve been watching homes decimated on a Caribbean island that is nearly 98% uninhabitable.  We’ve been watching yet another hurricane heading into the same devastated zone, hoping it will turn north as yet another potential storm is spawning off the African coast.  We’ve been watching rivers still in flood stage, homes still underwater, in Houston and the nearby areas that camera crews have left.  We’ve been watching stories of earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires and flooding rains around the globe.  We’ve been watching. And we’re wondering. What will it take to help these folks recover?  We want to help.  We need to help. And we want to do it the right way because they will need overwhelming help in the aftermath of overwhelming disasters.    

Throughout the last two weeks, members of your MACUCC Disaster Resource and Response Team (DRRT) have been writing blogs, sending out email information and posting on Facebook. (See them here: http://www.macucc.org/disasterresource)  One of the team, Rev. Fred Meade, has been down in Texas helping provide spiritual care at the still active shelters.

Here’s how to be unhelpful:

  • We’ve written about the caution of the heroic impulse that pushes us to want to gather and send things out of its own needs. We’ve seen it on the news reports.  It looks good and some of it is. But, what you don’t see in TV and social media is what Fred observed these past couple weeks in Houston; unneeded materials and inappropriate helpers that just showed up and added to the burden of survivors and helper agencies who had to deal with what folks have sent out of their need to be helpful. 
Here’s how to be helpful:
  1. We’ve encouraged you to pray. I’ve talked with UCC church folks in Florida to see how they are doing and to assure them of our support and prayers. They expressed how moving and reassuring it is for them to know that you are holding them in prayer.  Keep it up.
  2. We’ve encouraged folks to remember that cash is the most helpful gift in times of recovery.  And we encouraged you to donate to our UCC disaster relief.  And to maximize flexibility for recovery efforts we encourage you to make donations to “2017 disaster relief” rather than any one named disaster.  (Check here for a bulletin insert for donations).
  3. If you want to volunteer to help, be sure to work through one of the agencies that are part of networks that coordinate efforts with local and national agencies.  You can register yourself or your group with the UCC at http://www.ucc.org/disaster_disaster-volunteers
  4. We’ve provided to you resources you can use in worship, and in bulletin, Facebook, or newsletter announcements.  You can find them here http://www.macucc.org/preparingfordisasterresourcesforpastors   And if you have crafted some prayers or liturgies to use following a disaster please email them to methotk@macucc.org so we can post them and share them with others. 
  5. We’ve organized temporary drop off depots for Church World Service Clean Up Buckets.  As this unprecedented hurricane season continues we are Revising and Updating our Clean Up Kit Collection. Please see the most up to date information about that collection here.
  6. Keep an eye on our MACUCC website (http://www.macucc.org/disasterresource ), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/onegreathourofsharingucc )  and our MACUCC Emailing for updates from our DRRT and from our national UCC Disaster Ministries staff  (http://www.macucc.org/UCCdisasterresources )
  7. And please let us know if you have any questions to ask.  And if you have any information or ways you are responding that would be helpful to share, please pass these along and we’ll get them on our website.    
Don Remick
Associate Conference Minister
Disaster Resource and Response Team



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