VIM/DR Update 9/16/2020

I know you all know, but wow, what a year this has been.  

Spring 2020 brought not only the pandemic, but multiple wind storms and tornadoes and lots of rain and flash flooding to Arkansas. Arkansas Conference United Methodist Disaster Response Ministries and Volunteers in Mission have been engaged, bringing relief to those affected and recovery to those with unmet disaster caused needs. Most recently, we offered assistance to evacuees from Hurricane Laura as well as residents of Arkansas who were affected by her winds here.  Three case managers have worked this year finishing up the recovery cases from the 2019 Arkansas River Flood. Their work continues, even now, with the storms this year. The work has been non-stop.

The year started with 11 tornadoes in January. The worst of these was an EF2 in Logan County that stayed on the ground for 14 miles. The southeast part of the state was also hit hard. There were windstorms and some flooding across the state.  February brought more heavy rain and flash flooding. March brought 8 more tornadoes that included the EF3 that hit Jonesboro. That was the strongest tornado Arkansas has seen since the Central Arkansas Tornado of 2014. An EF2 did a good amount of damage in Boone County also. Of course, March also brought more rain toward the end of the month. April brought multiple rounds of severe weather. An EF2 tornado hit Harrisburg and damaging wind storms on Easter Sunday affected residents across the state – lots of trees down and many power outages. May brought lots more rain and streams, rivers and lakes were full. Flooding occurred on the west side of the state. Six more tornadoes were counted in the southwest part of the state. June – more thunderstorms – wind and rain. Lots of trees down here and there across the state. July finally brought a little break, the weather was unremarkable. Then came August with more rain and flooding on the west side of the state and Hurricane Laura. This was the wettest August on record.

In short, lots of weather all this year. Rain, hail, windstorms, tornados, flooding, power outages, home and property damage – all across the state. Damage has been widespread with no particular area of concentration so we have based our response mainly on requests for assistance and referrals. We are working with recovery partners to offer assistance with the limited resources we collectively have. We have been able to offer Disaster Case Management (DCM) services through a grant awarded to the Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (ARVOAD) through National VOAD and provided by UPS. This grant has enabled us to extend the DCM work we were doing after the 2019 AR River Flood through the UMCOR grant to also cover Spring (well really 2020) storms.  

We have had two out of state deployments, one to Iowa after the Derecho and now one is scheduled for Louisiana after Hurricane Laura. Supplies specifically for tarping homes were recently delivered to Louisiana as well as funds sent by our Bishop to help with relief and recovery efforts.

Many thanks to all who support Disaster Response and Volunteers in Missions with your prayers, as volunteers and by your contributions of funds.

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.