Remembering Harvey and Celebrating God’s Goodness
By: Sherri Gragg
In a meeting with Bishop Scott Jones and other Conference leaders the day before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the Rev. Scott Moore, Director of the Center of Missional Excellence notified the group that he might be especially busy for a few days since there was a hurricane brewing off the coast of Mexico. “Little did I know that nine months later, I would still be talking about that hurricane,” Moore said.
In an inspirational and at times emotional presentation during the 2018 Texas Annual Conference, Moore reported on the scope of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction and the Texas Annual Conference’s response to the disaster. The audience sat in rapt attention as Moore recounted the Conference’s journey from disaster to recovery over the past nine months.
Highlights of the presentation include:
• On Sunday, August 27, 2017, Moore emailed the Bishop requesting a video conference with him, the District Supervisors, and the center directors in an attempt to get a grasp on the rapidly worsening disaster. The video conference ended up being the first of daily conversations over the next week and a half as the Conference worked coordinate rescue and relief efforts. “What emerged out of those conversations was a picture of a conference that had suffered major damage and tremendous heartache,” Moore said, “It was also a picture of amazing bravery, resilience, and dedication to service in the name of Jesus Christ.”
• Moore recounted how Texas United Methodist Churches opened their doors to become shelters and staging centers. Churches throughout the Conference gave sacrificially, and even paddled canoes and kayaks to rescue families huddling on rooftops to escape the rising flood waters. Matthew Marchetti and Oliver Carter developed a mobile app that connected rescue teams with people in need. Churches collected relief offerings, and sent waves of volunteers to man the Center for Missional Excellence warehouse in Conroe.
• The new Mission Center warehouse just reaching full operations when the hurricane struck. The inventory of 1,100 flood buckets and several thousand hygiene kits was completely depleted within a two-hour period. Texas UMC churches rose to the challenge. “Churches from every district in the Texas Annual Conference sent truckload after trailer load of supplies,” Moore said, “Once the roads along the Louisiana border cleared, UMCOR delivered eight truckloads of flood buckets to the Mission Center.”
• The Texas Conference has taken significant steps to ensure long-term recovery by opening three regional recovery offices. Twenty-four staff members facilitate case management, construction and volunteer coordination. These offices are funded through generous UMCOR grants.
• In the early days of the disaster, UMCOR awarded the Texas Conference and emergency grant of $10,000. In October, 2017, UMCOR granted the Conference and additional $1 million grant to fund recovery for the next six months. At the end of April, 2018, UMCOR awarded the Conference an additional $4.8 million grant, funding recovery efforts through October of 2020.
• Hurricane Harvey is tied with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest storm in United States history. The Center for Missional Excellence has set a fund-raising goal of $10 million to fund ongoing relief efforts. “When we say we are in this for the long haul, we mean it,” Moore said.
Moore concluded his presentation by once again honoring the Texas Conference for its sacrificial service during Hurricane Harvey and throughout the long months since. He encouraged churches to reach out to the Center of Missional Excellence for assistance during their on-going recovery efforts.
Moore and his team are well aware that the 2018 hurricane season has only begun. He hopes that churches will actively prepare for the stormy days that lie ahead. “The predictions indicate that 2018 will be a very active hurricane season,” he said. “We can offer trainings for your church on how to prepare for a disaster, as individuals, as a congregation, and as a community.”
Churches interested in participating in this training, or donating to benefit the ongoing efforts and upcoming hurricane season, may do so at https://www.txcumc.org/texasrecovers.