On December 10, 2021, a tornado ripped through northeast Arkansas affecting Newport, Trumann, Monette, Leachville, and Augusta.

The very next morning, the ARUMC coordinator’s executive disaster team drove the path and then shared word about the extent of the damage via the Volunteers in Mission & Disaster Response – Serving Arkansas & Beyond Facebook group.

Within 48 hours, early response teams were on the ground doing early assessments to check on the survivors and assist with food, information, etc. In Trumann, the ARUMC team along with the Christian Aid Ministries, joined with the Baptist team to clear vegetative debris.

On December 16, Sheri Matthews, ARUMC coordinator, attended a Ministerial Alliance meeting in Trumann. “This group of pastors are a great asset for this community. They have worked extremely hard to make sure that the survivors are taken care of,” shared Mathews.

The Trumann mayor organized a “work” day for December 19, and about 500 volunteers showed up to work.

The week after Christmas, the collective responding organizations hosted a Multi-Agency Resource Center. They came together under one roof to provide resources to make it easier for survivors to get the help needed.

At this point, the relief phase was deemed over and during this transitional time, the ARUMC teams were allowed to step back and take a breath because the survivors were safe. They worked in the background to raise money, find volunteers, and resources to begin the phase of recovery.

In mid-January, FEMA opened three Disaster Relief Centers that included 8 FEMA employees, 4 Small Business loan officers, and a few local resource representatives like churches, and an unemployment officer. These centers were open for 45 days.

The long-term recovery phase has begun and the ARUMC team is still recruiting case managers that will help guide the survivors in their journey to a safe, new future. Requests for assistance are coming in from survivors and the long-term recovery process should take place over the next 12-18 months.

On Sunday, March 6, 2022, storms moved through the state with winds up to 120 miles per hour leaving thousands of Entergy customers without power. There was some damage in the areas of Dover and Walnut Valley and communication is continuing for assistance.

If you or anyone in your church would like more information on how you can support or serve on the ARUMC Disaster Response/Volunteers in Mission teams, please contact Sheri Mathews, ARUMC Coordinator, at sheri.matthews@arumc.org.