Disaster Preparedness & Response

A crisis can happen anytime, anywhere. Planning before, response during and recovery after crises are all critical stages to lessen the severity and longevity of the damage that may occur–that is, structural, physical and emotional damages. The Arkansas United Methodist Conference has key personnel and guidelines that allow for timely and experienced assistance to victims. Staying informed of disaster response resources and information is essential for pastors and church leaders to be able to serve their community or their neighbors in a time of need.

Here are some opportunities to serve:

  • Early Response Teams – The mission of the Early Response Team (ERT) is to provide a caring Christian presence in the aftermath of a disaster.  Teams operate under very specific guidelines that enable a team to be productive and caring while causing no further harm or being a burden to the affected community.  Early Response Teams respond, after emergency personnel, to disasters such as fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding.  They help families with clean-up, prevention of more damage to homes, and clean out of homes.  One-day training must be completed to participate in this type of response.  Classes are taught by authorized UMCOR trainers from our conference.  Team members are given ID badges as evidence of training.
  • Spiritual Care Teams– You can help people facing the unique emotional and spiritual challenges that accompany disaster.  Spiritual Care Teams are faith-based, ongoing teams that provide spiritual and emotional care following disasters.  Working closely with our conference disaster response committee, the Care Team helps disaster survivors connect with the spiritual, emotional, and basic life resources within themselves and their communities.  The Arkansas Conference provides the required training for this specialized ministry through UMCOR.
  • Disaster Response Organized by Your Local Church – Your church has the opportunity to open its doors in a time of disaster by setting up a shelter, providing meals, serving as a relief supply distribution center, or addressing other community needs.  The Arkansas Conference offers “Connecting Neighbors”, a training geared toward guiding local churches in preparing for and responding to disasters in their own communities and beyond.
  • Long Term Recovery Work – Once Early Response Teams have completed their work, long term volunteers may begin serving in a disaster affected area.  These teams come in to begin the repair and rebuilding process.  Through the conference United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) you can be a part of a mission team that helps to rebuild the homes and lives of disaster survivors.
  • Case Management – UMCOR’s model for disaster case management is a holistic approach that addresses the whole person – emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  Case managers work hand in hand with survivors to understand their situation, help them develop a plan, and connect them to recovery resources.  Basic Case Management Training prepares caring people to help vulnerable individuals and families “adjust to their new normal” after a devastating disaster.  Additional training equips case managers with specific skill and in-depth practical applications.  Note: This course is not offered as part of readiness training.  A system for disaster case management must be in place following a disaster event.
  • UMCOR Sager Brown – All individuals and churches may respond to disasters by supporting UMCOR Sager Brown – the United Methodist Church’s distribution center for supplies to those in need.  You can take up special offerings, assemble disaster kits, or organize a mission team to serve at the depot.  For more information on the kits please visit www.sagerbrown.org.

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