Oregon-Idaho churches respond to floods


The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the Methodist Church has shown, yet again, that when the need arises, it rises to the need.  In late August of 2016, UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) sent word that it was in serious need of cleanup kits, aka ‘flood buckets’ to restock its supply depots after the recent devastating floods in Texas and Louisiana; little did they know that those very buckets would be needed in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. 
And, with a bit of organizational help, the churches and the people of the Oregon-Idaho Conference responded with amazing generosity and enthusiasm. Over 30 churches from every corner of the conference and of every size built buckets and/or donated funds. We have delivered 400 buckets, filled with supplies, love and prayers, to the UMCOR West Depot in Salt Lake City and another 100 equivalent in cash contributions to the UMCOR Material Resources fund (#901440). 
Best of all, Becky Platt, OR-ID UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission) Coordinator, reports that she heard the most wonderful stories about how churches used this opportunity to not only build buckets for those in need but to build community and connections. Some examples:

  • Living Hope – Kuna UMC in Idaho handed out cards with a single supply item so that even those families who often needed help themselves could help if they wanted.  And they did!  The people showed up with so many supplies that someone had to be sent to buy more empty buckets!
  • Eugene First UMC in Oregon challenged its families to bring completed buckets.  They were, indirectly, responsible for a second trip to the depot.  Becky assumed half the final quantity in the logistics planning and that ‘error’ meant that the truck was full by the time it got to Idaho!  What an awesome problem to have! 
  • West Portland UMC offered to serve as a collection point for buckets and materials.  West Portland, Beaverton, Christ, Sherwood and Mountain Home came together there to provide supplies and buckets.
  • Klamath Falls UMC and Crater Lake DS John Tucker formed a ‘pony express’ to connect buckets with depot transportation.
  • Joseph UMC in eastern Oregon had a literal bucket brigade going as it built 100 buckets, the largest single build on this project, as part of a community celebration. Read their story.
  • Ashton Community UMC in eastern Idaho needed a place to take their complete buckets so that they could be easily picked up for onward transportation. About the same time that Becky was working that problem, she got a call from Trinity UMC in Idaho Falls, asking for transportation for their buckets.  A few more calls later, a plan was hatched that had the Ashton buckets delivered to Trinity, where the depot driver could pick up both sets. And Becky heard that when the buckets arrived from Ashton, someone at Trinity was on-hand to help off-load; that’s working together to get the job done!
  • Wesley Eugene, Tigard, Toledo (OR), and Amity (Idaho) wrapped bucket building projects into other church and community events, including a ‘first responder appreciation day’, and ‘inside/out’ event, and both 4th and 5th Sunday special activities.
And lastly, none of this would have happened without the ongoing support of Donna Waltman, who keeps our depot connections current, and Steve Matthews, our driver (pictured on the left with Brian Diggs, at the Salt Lake City UMCOR depot).  Steve needs a fancy title to acknowledge the work he makes possible, but Becky says she just keeps calling him the “transportation angel”.  He sees firsthand the work that goes into building these kits and he gets to see the joy and excitement as the fruits of each group’s work get loaded into the back of his truck.  Becky says she figures Steve has spent more than 70 hours driving and covered over 4000 miles for this project. 
See this page for more pictures.