Dear friends, greetings in the name of our risen savior Jesus Christ.
The weather news over the past few days has been devastating. The Shreveport District experienced severe storms over the weekend with damage from what appears to be two tornadoes. Thankfully, there were no apparent injuries and our teams are in the midst of assessment. All of us have seen the footage from Granbury and the Central Texas area. My friend who is the disaster response coordinator was just leaving West, Texas, where the recovery continues after the explosion earlier this month, when she received the phone call about the damage in the Granbury area.
Then yesterday, the news from Moore, Oklahoma made my heart ache as I watched rescue workers dig through rubble looking for children and teachers in the elementary school. While these images are devastating to any who watch, they are still tender reminders of our experiences with disasters. Because we know firsthand what it means to be in the midst of disaster recovery, I know that you will once again be generous in your response.
I pray that this Sunday, you will receive a special offering in response to the devastating storms - UMCOR Advance #901670. I know that your gifts will be used faithfully by the UMCOR staff. It is rare that any organization can claim that 100% of your contributions will be used in response to the devastation left by these storms. I can attest that this is not only rare but true.
The other request is to provide kits that can be used in response efforts in the days ahead. For more information go to the http://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies/Relief-Supply-Kits.
The Oklahoma Disaster Response team is experienced (just as we are) and has offered some very good advice. Please do not send donations of clothing and other items. This often creates a second disaster as the area is flooded with well-intended donations that are not of greatest need at this time. They also ask that you not self-deploy. Emergency responders need the vital routes and resources to do their job. There will be plenty of opportunity to help in the coming days.
Of course, the most important thing you can do is pray. Pray for the survivors and their families, pray for those on the front lines who are responding to the needs of the people as the days unfold. As I watched the weather this morning, it appears there are more storms on the way and friends might also remind you that hurricane season begins next Sunday, June 1. Please be prepared.
May you be blessed this day.
Grace and Peace,
Cynthia Fierro Harvey