Volunteers in Mission / Disaster Response

Early Response Team from Arkansas tarps a home to prevent further damage after Hurricane Michael in Port St. Joe, Florida.

A team from FUMC Rogers in the Northwest District install cabinets in a rebuilt home that was destroyed in the April 2018 Crawford County Tornado.

VIM/DR Update 5/18/2020

We have had so many disasters in recent months and years. Flooding, tornados and windstorms right here in Arkansas. Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and more elsewhere. Resources for disaster response are really taxed. Our local funds are mainly used for smaller disaster events here in Arkansas. When we have larger events, we reach out to UMCOR for funding to be able to assist. We budget what we can from the conference and use those funds with UMCOR grant funds to meet disaster caused needs.

Local funds were exhausted when spring storms began in 2020. UMCOR has not ever turned down a request for funding through grants, but even their funds are low right now. We work with partners (other response organizations) in recovery and we are finding everyone is experiencing the same – again, so many disasters coupled with COVID-19 and its impact has taxed everyone’s resources.

There have been 23 (as of 5/18/2020) tornadoes in Arkansas this Spring and several significant wind events. Arkansas Conference Disaster Response supports local church response as needed with consultation, training and supplies. Funds are used to support Early Response Teams by providing supplies and equipment needed to directly assist with clean up, preventing further damage to homes, etc. They’re used to support teams in doing anything the community or affected individuals and families need us to do within our capacity and capabilities. Funds are used to support disaster case managers who walk alongside and assist survivors as they maneuver the recovery process and develop and work through their personal recovery plans. Funds are used to help with temporary housing or storage and to help families relocate. They are used to repair, replace or even rebuild homes that are destroyed and they help support the volunteer teams that do the work.

Both local and UMCOR funding depend on you – the people of the United Methodist Church. Please consider whether you can help by contributing to the Arkansas Tornado Relief Fund (and/or UMCOR) so the Arkansas Conference can continue assisting those who have been affected by disaster.

VIM/DR Update 3/23/2020

There have been 168 confirmed positive cases in 31 counties as of 9:43 am on March 23, 2020.

The Arkansas Conference Disaster Response Ministries is in a support role coordinating with other response organizations and agencies. We are responding with applicable and available resources and capabilities to meet identified needs all over the state.

March 19 North Central AR Tornadoes

  • There were four tornadoes affecting four counties (Boone, Marion, Baxter, Pope).
  • One additional county was affected by winds. (Sharp)
  • The Red Cross reports 8 homes were destroyed, 7 had major damage, 34 had minor damage, and 2 were inaccessible at the time of the report.
  • The NW District DR Coordinator, Conference DR Coordinator, and VIM Coordinator surveyed the damage in Boone and Marion counties on Friday, March 20.
  • Our VIM Coordinator is doing an additional assessment at the time of this report. Further response will be subject to identified, unmet needs. Thankfully most survivors we visited had homeowners insurance.

Current In-Conference projects:

  • Disaster Recovery efforts are ongoing after several events across the state.
  • ECHO Village – construction of homes and facilities, Eureka Springs.

Outside the Arkansas Conference:

  • Any of the flood and tornado devastated areas are continuing relief and recovery efforts
  • The Methodist Church of Puerto Rico has reached out to VIM to request assistance in the ongoing repair/rebuild efforts from Hurricane Maria’s devastation. For more information about team requirements or about registering your team, see the volunteer FAQs and Guidelines or contact Byron Mann at vim@arumc.org.
  • Any of the wildfire, flood, or hurricane devastated areas are continuing recovery efforts.

For a complete list of VIM and DR projects see SCJ Disaster and SCJ Missions. Contact Byron at vim@arumc.org for more information and to schedule.

Upcoming Mission Journeys

Please share your team’s Mission Journey Experience and/or your church’s outreach events here. We would love to know and share what you are doing in service to others.

Local Church, Disaster Response WANTS YOU!
Local church involvement when disaster strikes is vital in assisting individuals and families affected. Disaster Response wants to help local churches understand how important they are as response partners in their community and in this ministry. We would love to come talk to your group, class, or church and begin a partnership that will make a meaningful difference when disaster strikes. Contact Janice at disaster@arumc.org to find out more.

The beginnings of ECHO Village

ECHO Village in Eureka Springs recently added to list of UMVIM approved US Domestic Mission Sites
ECHO Village is a unique concept of community living that is a group of small homes situated close together in which the residents living there work together to help each other in their daily living. The concept is that affordable housing is provided for seniors, handicapped, single parents, homeless, early prison release, veterans, low income individuals who need housing security. There will be a community garden, chickens, playground, community room, classes for parenting, finances, job skills, resume building, etc. Each person commits to helping their neighbors.

These homes will be owned by Eureka Christian Health Outreach (ECHO) and rent at low entry level to enable individuals to get a leg up on their economic situation. The community room will be available for larger gatherings and trainings. It will be a unique community that lives and loves together for the benefit of all.

ECHO Village is a brand new community under construction.  Phase I includes eight houses which are dried in and ready for finish work. Current needs are volunteer work teams especially for finish work on new structures.

For more information or to schedule a work team contact Suzy Bell at mightywarriorrocks@yahoo.com or Byron Mann at vim@arumc.org.

Disaster Response Operation under “Blue Skies”
During the calm, we focus primarily on preparedness so that when disasters come, we are equipped to respond. During this time we are trying to connect with churches that are “go to, getter done” churches to respond when disaster strikes in their community or beyond.

Ideally, these churches would name a disaster response coordinator, commit to having an early response team, and commit to having a series of trainings. These trainings wouldn’t be exclusive- other churches and resources in the area need to be reached to build capacity.

We would love to hear from you or your church and meet with you to discuss this vision of disaster response. Click here for a letter that better explains this vision.

Watch here for more information about projects in the future and connect with us on Facebook for the most current updates. Our page is Volunteers in Mission & Disaster Response – Serving Arkansas & Beyond.