Continued support needed for Hurricane Matthew relief 

Nov. 9, 2016 -- Hurricane Matthew crawled up the southeastern coast of the United States and had significant impacts from South Carolina to Virginia in October. Virginia Beach recorded winds in excess of 90 mph and received in excess of 14 inches of rain in a very short amount of time. Other Hampton Roads locations experienced a similar impact. 

The Virginia Conference Disaster Response Team held a planning meeting with the Elizabeth River District Superintendent Wayne Snead on Oct. 6 to discuss preparations for Hurricane Matthew.  On Oct. 12, team members began doing local assessment of communities within the district and Michele Michaelian, Virginia Conference Eearly Response Team (ERT) coordinator/trainer, attended an emergency meeting with Virginia Beach emergency management. 

On Oct. 15, the first conference ERT teams deployed under her supervision to several homes within the Windsor Woods and Bow Creek sections of the city. The Virginia Conference has had ERT and volunteer teams on site ever since.  So far they have worked on 76 homes during 2,571 volunteer hours with 259 volunteers. The total value of volunteer time is $60,573.00.

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A FEMA Declaration was requested by the Governor McAuliffe and was approved and has been signed by the President for Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Newport News. 

A regional Long Term Recovery Group is in the early stages of forming and the Rev. Bob Pihlcrantz, Virginia Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, is acting as interim chair of the Hampton Roads Long-term Recovery Group (HR LTRG).  This group will be working closely with FEMA to assist with unmet needs across the entire Southside declaration area. Newport News is being serviced by the Peninsula regional Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).  The Virginia Conference UMC is the primary voluntary agency that will be doing the long term recovery in Hampton Roads. 

Bishop Sharma Lewis signed a conference wide appeal for assistance on Oct. 24 and a $10,000 Emergency UMCOR grant was requested and has been approved. A Hurricane Matthew donation line was established by the finance office. 

There are still several hundred homes affected that have not been evaluated or worked on in the crisis cleanup system.  The Virginia Conference UMC Disaster Team will continue to locate and identify persons that need assistance. 

There are two United Methodist churches currently hosting volunteers on the Elizabeth River District; Princess Anne Plaza and Courthouse Community. 

Pending right now include the hiring of a site recovery coordinator for Hurricane Matthew and an initial $50,000 UMCOR grant. 

What is needed now is engagement from Virginia (VIM) Volunteers in Mission when LTRG is up and running. 


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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
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