VIM and Disaster Response updates: August 2014

Central Arkansas disaster relief and recovery continues
The relief phase for the April 27 tornado has gone extremely well, according to Janice Mann, who with her husband, Byron, serves as an Arkansas Conference disaster response co-coordinator. She reports that a few relief phase work orders remain on the to-do list. 
“Working with other relief agencies and case management, we continue to meet unmet needs as they are identified,” she said. “We have teams scheduled through Aug. 13.”
Greg Forrester of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) spent two days in Arkansas to survey the damage and offer UMCOR’s support. UMCOR already has provided an Emergency Grant, and the Conference is awaiting word from them regarding a Recovery Grant. 
Organizing for recovery The affected communities are getting organized for the long-term recovery phase. 
“The Vilonia committee that formed after the 2011 tornado has begun meeting again on a regular basis to assess long-term needs for repair and rebuilding,” Mann said. “Their efforts will be focused within the Vilonia School District, but they will offer assistance to anyone who presents with unmet needs.” 
In addition, a Mayflower committee is forming, with subcommittees already meeting and planning for the long term. This committee will cover the rest of Faulkner County, and will reach out to the other affected areas to determine unmet needs there. Two United Methodist clergy are involved in this committee’s leadership: the Rev. Rick Wilkins of Mayflower UMC serves as chair, and the Rev. David Baker of Wesley UMC Conway serves as an officer on the executive committee. In addition, Sheri Mathews, spiritual and emotional care team supervisor for Arkansas Conference Disaster Response, will chair the spiritual care subcommittee. 
Janice and Byron Mann have spent the bulk of their time on the ground in affected areas since the tornado hit. They have committed to continue for the long haul; Janice will serve as long-term recovery coordinator, and Byron will serve on the construction subcommittee.
The long-term recovery groups invited Church World Service to present its Recovery Tools and Training Workshop in Arkansas to aid in the recovery process. It was held at and hosted by First UMC Conway, in coordination with Arkansas Conference Disaster Response Ministries. UMCOR was here to present at this workshop and remained to do a two-day comprehensive disaster case management training for all who are serving as case managers for the recovery effort.
Sign up to help Teams wishing to offer assistance in the recovery efforts should continue to register via the conference website at (click on the “Volunteer Form” tab). Teams should be able to offer skills needed for major repair and rebuilding projects, and should have a designated team leader that has had VIM Team Leader Training or has the equivalent experience leading teams. Teams larger than 15 members should be willing to divide into multiple teams and have an additional appropriate number of trained or experienced team leaders for those multiple teams. All team members must have medical insurance coverage. Additional trip insurance is available if desired. Contact Byron Mann at concerning trip insurance.
NOMADS will arrive early October to aid in the recovery efforts. They will park at RV sites at Wesley UMC Conway. There are four existing sites with electrical hook-up. Conference Disaster Response has provided funds for two additional sites, and electrical hook-up and sewer hook-up for all six sites.
Please prayerfully consider contributing to the recovery efforts by continuing to pray for those affected and those working to help, by volunteering with a team or by donating funds for building materials and other needs. The latest, and likely final, numbers provided by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicate that there are 825 homes affected.
East Arkansas flooding The Manns have been in contact with the Rev. Mike Smith of Brinkley UMC concerning damage from the recent flooding in that area. He has requested, and Arkansas Rice Depot has delivered, 40 Cleaning Buckets to be staged and distributed there. ADEM has identified 151 homes affected across four counties. 
“Pastor Mike is in close contact with the mayor and the local fire departments and watching the situation closely,” Janice Mann said. “He will let us know if outside assistance is needed, and we have put ERTs [Early Response Teams] on standby.”
Other training and mission news
Recent training event in Searcy certifies 22 persons
Thanks to First UMC Searcy and St. Paul UMC Searcy for co-hosting Early Response Team (ERT) Training on July 19. Twenty-two persons attended the session and received or renewed their Early Response Team certification.
ERT training Aug. 30 at Prescott UMC The next Early Response Team (ERT) training session will be held Aug. 30 at First UMC Prescott, 125 W. 2nd Street North in Prescott. Contact Janice Mann ( or Prescott UMC for more information or to register.
Much more than ‘cleanup’: Disaster Response Academy Sept. 7-11 The UMC South Central Jurisdiction’s 2014 Disaster Response Academy is set for Sept. 7-11 at Canyon Camp and Conference Center in Hinton, Okla. This academy offers workshops for everyone, from persons just getting interested in disaster response to the person who is the defined leader at the Conference level.  
Annual conference and district disaster response coordinators should receive training at least once every four years, and the Academy provides an excellent opportunity.
The Academy offers a choice of 15 workshops targeted to different levels of experience with disaster response. Scheduling allows participants to select up to six of these workshops: •Overview of UMCOR Programs •UMCOR Basic Disaster Ministry (“Disaster 101”) •Connecting Neighbors Leadership Training Program (local church readiness training) •Spiritual and Emotional Care: “Calming After the Storm” •Volunteer Coordination: On-site Management for Early Response Teams (ERTs) •ERT Team Leader  •ERT Site Assessment •Cleaning Out Flooded Homes •Managing Unsolicited Donated Goods – The Secondary Disaster •Everyone’s Role in Disaster •Transitioning to Long-Term Recovery and UMCOR Grants •Crisis Planning and Response: Communicating Under Pressure •Communicating with Team Leaders •Overview of Missouri Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Impact Ideas  •DRC & UMVIM Close-Out Meeting (Mandatory for DRC and UMVIM leaders)
To view all workshop descriptions, or to register, visit The early bird discount registration deadline is Aug. 17; final registration date Sept. 3.
Questions? Contact Audrey Phelps, VIM and Disaster Response director for the South Central Jurisdiction, at or 636-344-0389.
Mission journeys to UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in 2015 Conference Volunteers In Mission (VIM) coordinator Byron Mann, is setting up two different opportunities to travel to UMCOR’s Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La., to help with both local mission work and preparing relief supplies to be distributed around the world. (Most of the items local churches collect annually as part of Ingathering are received by and distributed through Sager Brown Depot.)
Two scheduled journey dates for Sager Brown are available: March 23-27, 2015, and Oct. 15-23, 2015. To learn more or to register for either of these mission journeys, contact Byron Mann at