During the early days of the recovery from the great South Georgia Floods, a Red Cross representative reminded us of a sobering fact. He said, “It’s not a matter of whether you will be hit by a natural disaster, it’s a matter of when.” We have been fortunate to have lived here on the Southeast Coast of NC now for 7 ½ years without a hurricane. In contrast, during the same time span in our last assignment, we had experienced no fewer than 5 named storms! We have now been reminded that there is no place that is or can be entirely safe from natural disasters.
Hurricane Matthew was easily the closest brush with a full blown hurricane that we have seen in this area in many years. Thankfully, local damage from the storm was, for the most part, less severe. However further West and North, Matthew dumped enormous amounts of rain on already saturated lands and rivers. As I write this, we wait for crests on the Tar, Neuse and other major rivers in Eastern North Carolina. Projections are that the flooding from Matthew may meet or exceed that of Floyd. The death toll in North Carolina has now reached 20. Major roads, including US 74 and I-95 have sections that are closed to traffic.
Beyond the state and region, Hurricane Matthew made a sustained and powerful direct hit on the Caribbean Islands of Haiti, Jamaica, Eastern Cuba and parts of the Bahamas. Haiti alone has reported over 800 fatalities. And the infrastructure damages to this poor island nation compounded the still unrepaired damage from a major earthquake seven years ago.
Having experienced disasters ourselves, and having led response and recovery efforts along the way, we have seen that these events can bring out both the best and the worst in us. Rumors easily circulate in an environment where accurate information is slow to arrive. Our inclination to fear and self-preservation can create a cocoon of selfishness and mistrust. But more commonly, we have seen inspiring scenes of neighbor helping neighbor—from sharing generator power to picking up debris to workteams from less affected areas traveling to areas with greater devastation. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is nothing more tragic than a solitary person going it alone—that together we are stronger, more capable, and even happier.
Therefore, as we move into the recovery phase from Hurricane Matthew, let me encourage you to bring out your best by participating in some way to the relief and recovery. Before the storm, we began collecting items for “Flood Buckets” (link below). A trip planned for the MERCI warehouse in Goldsboro to organize materials for recovery is slated for October 20. And there are always opportunities to contribute financially to the recovery efforts. You should know that 100% of gifts to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) go directly to the designated project.
Below are a series of links offering ways you can help assist with recovery efforts in North Carolina and beyond. Please help.
- Items for Flood Buckets
- Donate through Seaside United Methodist Church
Use this link to send a gift to United Methodist Relief Efforts through the United Methodist Committee on Relief. This link will open a donation page. Enter your Disaster Relief donation in the box labeled “UMCOR—Haiti” and/or “UMCOR—North Carolina” to donate to the Caribbean response efforts or the NC Response efforts (you may enter donations in either or both). These donations will be forwarded by the church to the appropriate agencies and you will be acknowledged on your giving statement from the church.
- Donate Directly through the North Carolina Conference
Use this link to send a gift to United Methodist Relief Efforts through the North Carolina Conference, specifically for UMCOR relief efforts in North Carolina. These funds will be used directly by the NC Conference in North Carolina. You will be acknowledged for tax purposes by the NC Conference by email.
- Donate Directly to the United Methodist Committee on Relief for International Matthew recovery efforts (Caribbean islands including Haiti, etc.)
UMCOR provides relief services around the world. This link allows you to donate directly to the efforts in the Caribbean, such as Haiti. You will be acknowledged by email directly from UMCOR.
- Donate Directly to the United Methodist Committee on Relief for US Matthew Recovery efforts
This link will take you directly to the donation site for UMCOR to donate to Matthew relief efforts in the US—Florida, GA, SC, NC. You will be acknowledged by email directly from UMCOR.