Early Response Team from Oregon-Idaho Responds to Hurricane Florence


Larry Johnson at an ERT Fair earlier this year
Larry Johnson and Tom Ettelson of Mt Home UMC in Sherwood, Oregon are traveling to North Carolina as part of a United Methodist Early Response Team to help with local recovery after Hurricane Florence, which struck North Carolina on September 14th.

Larry is the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Coordinator of the Early Response Team program.  Both Larry and Tom have been through the Early Response Team Training, which is a collaborative effort of the United Methodist Committee on Relief and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission .  ERTs fill a specific need in the early days after a disaster to clean out flood-damaged homes, remove debris, place tarps on homes and otherwise help to prevent further damage, while providing a caring Christian presence.  They fill an important role between first response emergency workers and longer-term recovery, rebuild, and repair teams.  ERTs go to specific areas after being invited.

Larry says, I go because the need is great.  I volunteer because I feel called.   It is a privilege to represent my local church in this way.  From past experience, I know the people served will be touched knowing that a small church in the farmland of Oregon is praying for and providing hope for their brothers and sisters in the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 I am also touched by knowing that Ann Street UMC  in Beaufort, NC will be opening their doors to us.  This church which was also damaged by Hurricane Florence will become the volunteer base camp for mission teams coming into the area to help with recovery efforts.   It is their way of responding to their community in the time of need.”

 Beaufort, NC is a small fishing and tourist community.  Hurricane Florence moved very slowly over the area, bringing 20-30” of rain in 1.5 days and then a tidal surge 7-8 ft high, continuing to
Florence radar image
Hurricane Florence hovers over North Carolina
pound rain into the rivers as it moved inland then back out again.    The town of Beaufort is now up and running with electricity and services.  There are grocery stores and a few restaurants open at this time.  There are people in surrounding rural areas who are living in their storm damaged homes because they have nowhere else to go. Hurricane Michael didn't do significant damage beyond what was already done.  The homes that Larry and Tom will be working on will be those in the rural areas outside of Beaufort.  Larry and Tom will fly into Raleigh/Durham airport and then travel approximately three hours southeast to the coastal town. 

Mt. Home UMC is accepting a special offering to support this mission.  The monies collected will help to offset the Early Response Team’s expenses.  If you would like to support this mission, you can send donations to Mt Home UMC, PO Box 1497, Sherwood, OR 97140-1497. 

It is the connectional nature of The United Methodist Church which allows persons from large or small churches to receive excellent training and be ready to serve their neighbors near or far when disaster strikes.  It is the connectional nature of The United Methodist Church which allows a local church in a storm-damaged area to receive helpers from all across the denomination in their time of need, to bless not only their members but the whole community in which they minister.  As part of The United Methodist Church, you are a part of the people of God who truly care about all of God's people through the United Methodist Committee on Relief and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission.  Thank you for your support through prayer and financially.

You can learn more about the Early Response Team program here and on the Conference website here. 
Watch for opportunities to be trained in our area which will be shared on the Conference website and through Conference and District newsletters.
Related story: Emergency Preparedness ministry available in Oregon-Idaho Conference  10/17/2018

Also of interest:  In an emotional testimony, the Rev. Bob Deich describes his work as leader of the Early Response Team for the Louisiana Conference