Helping Out in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey


Don Remick

8/30/2017

New cleanup bucket drop-off location added in Braintree; instructions and other drop-off depots below.
The news reports continue to tell the story of unimaginable devastation following the flooding rains of the Hurricane.  The images move us at that deep place within our hearts. As of this writing, within the Houston region, over 30,000 people are expected in the official shelters that have been established, with a vast number beyond that finding other shelter resources within the region. Over 50 inches of rain have fallen in some areas. An estimated 500,000 homes have been affected. The medical, government, and utility infrastructure have been deeply impacted. And the storm is not over as it moves into neighboring states.

We know there is a long road ahead. We want to respond: to send support, to relieve the suffering and to ease the pain. We want to know the best way to help out. 

INFORMATION:
Because this is a continually unfolding disaster, I would encourage you to keep an eye on updates. 

  • Our national UCC Disaster Ministries is working with partner agencies and the local UCC Conference and its churches to determine needs and best responses. You can find updates from them here.  
  • You can find ongoing updates of resources and response through our Massachusetts Conference here
Both of these websites also provide you with resources for worship, including prayers and bulletin inserts, that you can use in your local setting.


DONATIONS AND VOLUNTEERS:
Folks also wonder about the best way to donate. Typically, in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, there is no effective way for folks in the region to receive materials and supplies. This video gives testimony to this challenge:
 
 

The same is true for showing up. There will be a need for outside groups to come in for that long-term recovery effort and it will be best to coordinate this through recognized agencies that are working collaboratively with officials within the region. Our UCC is receiving names of individuals and churches who want to volunteer their help for both the short and long haul. You can sign up to be on the list through the UCC website. (And there are other opportunities for other disasters available and in great need for volunteers right now.)

The main need, in both the short term and long term, will be funding. Lots of folks with great intentions will be setting up funding streams. Some folks, whose intentions are not so noble, will also be inviting you to give. Be sure to choose a known agency with a proven track record. Our UCC has begun a fund for the short- and long-term recovery efforts.   Because of the giving of our churches to Our Church’s Wider Mission, all of the funds donated for Hurricane Harvey will be used for this disaster’s short- and long-term needs. If you send a check, be sure to mark 'Hurricane Harvey' in your memo line. Find the UCC donation page here.  

National VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) helps to coordinate government, non profits and faith based groups in these efforts. 
Your MACUCC Disaster Resource and Response Team will continue to provide updates on their web page, so check out the web page often.  
 
CLEANUP KITS COLLECTION IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE HARVEY:
Everyone says they haven’t seen flooding like this in their lifetimes. Some have said this was a once in a 1,000-year storm to hit Texas  Other officials have said it is the worst flooding storm to ever hit this continent.  I think we will be hearing this more regularly. For years we have been hearing about shifts in our climate. And, Hurricane Harvey is absolutely consistent with the observation and prediction that these shifts will result in storms of greater intensity and frequency. We need to be prepared..
 
TIME FRAME:
We will be receiving Cleanup Buckets at our Temporary Church Depots through Monday September 24th during the hours each church has posted below.   
  • PLEASE call the contact number for the church to let them know you are coming and how many kits you are bringing.
  • There are no people on site at these churches to help you unload your buckets, so please bring a crew with you.
KIT INSTRUCTIONS: 
There are very specific instructions regarding items that need to in completed kits and how to package those kits. 
  • Temporary Church Depots ARE NOT accepting partial kits, kit supplies or cash donations. Cash donations for kits can be sent directly to Church World Service.
  • Instructions for kits can be found here
  • Our UCC has some funds for matching grants to help with clean up kits. See the above link for more details.
TEMPORARY CHURCH DEPOTS:
There is unlikely to be anyone available to help you unload your buckets - please bring staff with you. It is advised to call ahead to the church before heading out.
  1. BROCKTON
    • Christ Congregational Church, UCC
    • 1390 Pleasant Street, Brockton (come to the back parking lot)
    • Open 9am – 2pm, Monday through Friday
    • Contact:Church office 508-586-3022
  2. SPRINGFIELD
    • Mittineague Congregational Church
    • 1840 Westfield Street, West Springfield, MA 01089
    • Open: 9 a.m. – noon Monday through Friday
    • Contact: Rev. Joe Mayher413-734-1290 mittcong@comcast.net
  3. ACTON
    • Acton Congregational Church
    • 12 Concord Road, Acton, Mass.Access to the church parking lot is next to the white house located at 20 Concord Rd
    • Open 9 am -3 pm Monday- Friday
    • Contact: Rev. Sue Remick: 781-724-9831; Church office: 978-263-2728
  4. BRAINTREE
  • Union Congregational Church
  • 74 Commercial St, Braintree MA
  • Open 9-2
  • Contact Rev. Rachel Bickford: 781-843-1333, reverendrachelb@gmail.com
For further information or questions contact Don Remick or Karen Methot at 508-875-5233,
 
ONGOING: September is Disaster Preparedness and Awareness Month.  We hope your church will use the resources available to it (see links above) to help your members and your community become better prepared and informed about disaster impact and recovery. 
 
Rev. Don Remick
Associate Conference Minister for the South East Area and Church Development
 



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