Conference News

Hurricane Isaac Response, August 29, 2012

published 8/29/2012

Friends,

At this point, I am most thankful for the reports I have received from our district disaster response coordinators. Although Hurricane Isaac has not entirely made its way through our conference, it appears we will not have much damage to report at all. Praise God for this! However, as most of you know, other conferences are experiencing uncertain times. Please pray for those at this time. Louisiana and Mississippi are still in the midst of the storm on the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. 

Baypines District
Tim Trent reported that the Baldwin County advisories have been lifted but they are still under tornado watches. There is some flooding and they have responded to some requests for tarps yesterday north of Spanish Fort. This request came from VOAD. Cory has checked on the pastors in the south end of the district and has received no word of any particular needs. He feels the district is in good shape. Phyllis Murray, Director of Blue Lake Camp, was contacted about housing power companies but that has not been needed since the storm went west. They did house a conference pastor and his family/pets that evacuated. Blue Lake Camp is available should electrical or volunteer teams need housing from other conferences traveling into the region.

Marianna/Panama City District
Woody Bollinger and Gary Daniel sent e-mails last night to all clergy. They have not received any responses of any damage or needs at this time.

Mobile District
Ron Baughman reported that it has been raining since last night but the localized flooding is the same as with a normal storm. There are 1,100 residents in Theodore without power. It should be restored by 5:00pm today. Dauphin Island is without power due to an unmanned sail boat hitting a line. Alabama Power will have this restored soon. 

Montgomery/Prattville District
Chris Perry has not heard of any needs for chainsaw teams within the AWF Conference. If another conference needs this service, he will notify our trained chainsaw teams.

Pensacola District
Alan Gantzhorn stated that there was no significant damage, just minor flooding. 

I have contacted Wayne Napier in the Mississippi Conference to let him know we are on standby should he need resources or ERT teams that we do not need in our conference (which would be minimal). I have also contacted the Florida Conference and they seem to have what they need in house at this time. I have not formally contacted the Louisiana Conference since the storm is still in the area but will as soon as it is appropriate to do so. As always, I will make sure we are welcome and invited before we send teams. Based on the slow movement of the storm, I don't expect the request to deploy trained teams before Friday at the earliest. If you have a team, stay tuned and be on standby. I have asked our district coordinators to report into me tomorrow morning via e-mail. We do not anticipate the need for further conference calls unless there is damage due to the extended rains.

Future communications correspondence will only be sent to our database of trained teams. This information will also be posted on Facebook. This means if you have a trained team the conference is not aware of, it is important you let Susan Hunt know by sending her a list to susan@awfumc.org

Thank you for your concern, care and prayers during this uncertain time. It is a blessing to serve this wonderful conference. If we have learned anything it is that we are prepared for the next disaster. 

Blessings,
Amelia Fletcher
Alabama-West Florida Conference Disaster Response Coordinator


Isaac Preparedness Update, Monday, August 27, 2012

published 8/27/2012

Friends,

We are coming closer to knowing more about where Isaac will land, although if you have experience with tropical storms and hurricanes, you know they can turn on a moment's notice. Because of that possibility, we have not let our guard down and continue to prepare as much as possible. The noon AWF Conference call allowed for each district to check in and report what is being done to prepare and what resources are available. Our conference has received many offers of assistance should we need them. We will assess on Wednesday whether we need this help or another conference would be better served by their help. Trained emergency response teams could be needed as early as Friday whether it is in our conference or another. If you have a team trained that can help, please let Susan Hunt know at susan@awfumc.org

Baypines District:
Tim Trent announced that Blue Lake Camp has been contacted about housing potential power crews. The Baypines District will help with this housing if needed. Cory Smith is also planning on touring the district on Thursday to assess any needs there might be. Two shelters are scheduled to open in Baldwin County: Robertsdale and Daphne. Mandatory evacuations for Baldwin County have been lifted and are now voluntary for those in low lying areas and in mobile homes and campgrounds. Rob Haynes at Fairhope UMC reported the they are an after-event shelter with Red Cross if needed. It could be activated 72 hours after landfall. They are also ready to house invited UMCOR/UMVIM teams if needed. Gulf Shores UMC has an available tool trailer. 

Demopolis District: 
Charles Walters, current tornado recovery coordinator, has a shower trailer and 911 trailer ready and available for use. Should it be needed, he can transform it from a rebuilding trailer to an emergency needs trailer with relief supplies.  

Dothan District:
Tripp Todd reported that Covenant UMC is on standby to serve as a shelter should it be needed. Several trained ERT teams are also ready to be deployed. 

Marianna/Panama City District:
Woody Bollinger informed the group that Walton, Bay and Gulf Counties will have shelters available for the community.

Mobile District: 
Ron Baughman reported that his district is ready with resources and also have ERT teams. Ron is working directly with the Red Cross to coordinate efforts. There will be shelters opening in Mobile County today. Tonya Elmore and Kim Doss have been actively contacting all churches in the district reminding them of the protocol before and after the storm. They have implemented a phone chain for reporting after the storm. 

Montgomery/Opelika District:
Michael Lawler has five ERT trained teams on alert. Supplies are also available and can be delivered. Aldersgate UMC in Montgomery is on stand by to house evacuations if needed. Park Memorial in Troy is also on standby as a shelter. Auburn UMC and Brundidge UMC have tool trailers. 

Montgomery/Prattville District:
Chris Perry will serve as the official coordinator of trained chainsaw teams. Should you have a team he is not aware of, please contact him at chris@rsum.org

Pensacola
Jeremy Pridgeon has completed the task of contacting all pastors along the Highway 98 corridor. Most are staying close to their home and church. Nancy Watson from this district will help coordinate care teams in the coming days. Santa Rosa Beach issued mandatory evacuations in low lying areas, such as Navarre, as well as for mobile home parks/campgrounds. Shelters in Milton are available. 

Since we are not positive where the store will land, we could potentially be serving the role of transferring supplies. Also, please be reminded that we will not go anywhere until we receive an invitation. I will be proactive in making calls if we feel we can be of assistance in other conferences. I appreciated hearing from Tom Hazelwood of UMCOR this morning. If we have damage in our conference, we will ask for a request for financial assistance.

At this point, we will closely watch the storm and continue to pray for all in its path. Our next conference-wide call will be Wednesday. At that time we will assess all districts and handle needs. Please don't forget to utilize our reporting damage protocol system. If we have damage, it will allow is to be as efficient in helping you as possible. 

Blessings,
Amelia Fletcher
Alabama-West Florida Conference 


Isaac Preparedness Update, Sunday, August 26, 2012

published 8/26/2012

Friends, 

The 12:30pm Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) held a conference call today and briefings suggest we go into a stage two readiness plan and be ready to fully activate Tuesday at noon or before. This activation would include:
· Reviewing protocols. Reporting damage protocol can be found here
· Forming response teams that would report to district coordinator.
· Certified chainsaw teams should be organizing and be ready to deploy by Thursday afternoon or Friday. If you have trained a group and have not turned that list into the conference yet, please send to Chris Perry for coordination at chris@rsum.org
· District Coordinators: please begin conversations with you District Superintendent and District Offices and begin communication with churches on preparedness, shelters and anything pertinent to local needs. A local church preparedness form can be found here
· Coastal churches in the Mobile, Baldwin County and Pensacola areas should take measures to secure your property, protect information and gather relevant documents. Please also assist with the needs of the fragile population including elderly or special needs citizens. 

As a note, the North Alabama Conference has 700 tarps, felting nails and strips of various sizes in warehouses available to us, if needed.  

Teams should be forming to help with tarping and roofing issues at this time. Please report teams ready to deploy to Susan Hunt at susan@awfumc.org. Please be sure volunteer forms are complete and keep record of your volunteer hours (those begin when you leave home and continue until you complete your trip). Volunteer release forms can be found here. This is critical that we keep an accurate log to get potential relief funding. 

Per the National Weather Service, Isaac is predicted at this time to be a high Category 1 or Category 2. Mobile and Southern Baldwin Counties will be under a hurricane warning approximately 36 hours ahead of tropical winds. Probabilities are high for 5-10 foot storm surge and 10-12 inches of rain is possible. Expect weather to deteriorate by Tuesday afternoon. 

Please continue to pray for those in the line of the storm and those preparing to serve as volunteers and relief workers. We are keenly aware of our wonderful connection at times like these. 

Blessings,
Amelia Fletcher
Alabama-West Florida Conference Disaster Response Coordinator


Isaac Preparedness Update, Friday, August 24, 2012

published 8/24/2012

Friends,

The district disaster response coordinators, along with AWF Conference leaders, just completed a conference call. Several noteworthy pieces of information were mentioned that might be of interest to you or your local church. Please carefully read this update along with others that will be sent in the coming days. 

The State of Alabama VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) held a call at 1:00pm today. Although most in this group are not trained meteorologists and storm forecasters, the consensus is that there will be some sort of landfall in or close to our conference. Significant wind and surf could arrive in our conference by Monday evening. Various groups within the targeted areas, such as the Salvation Army and Red Cross, are in alignment and cooperatively preparing for this storm. 

Districts
The district disaster response coordinators are assessing several things including places that can potentially house trained volunteers as well as available resources. Inventories of flood/cleaning buckets are also being taken at this time. Should we need more buckets, the North Alabama and Mississippi Conferences of the UMC will share their inventory. If the storm makes landfall in another conference, we will most certainly share our inventory with those who need it. District tool trailers are also being assessed at this time. 

Local Churches
Now is the time to evaluate your own facilities if there are areas that tend to flood or leak. We also highly encourage you to reach out to those in your congregation and community who are elderly or have special needs. A brief phone call showing care and concern ahead of time will be most appreciated by them. If you are not familiar with your district disaster coordinator, please click here for the list and note their contact information. 

Trained Volunteers
All trained Early Response Teams and Chainsaw Teams should be on standby from this point on until further notice. You will most likely be needed somewhere. 

Resources
A newly released Red Cross mobile app is available for free. We encourage everyone to download this app if you have a Droid or iPhone. Features include shelter locations and an "I'm safe" capability that informs others you are ok. A handy checklist from the Red Cross on how best to prepare for the storm can be found here. 

Also, www.ready.gov is a very helpful Web site and offers tips and help on making plans and informing those in your churches. 

Click here to follow conference protocol when reporting damage. It is imperative we all follow the same plan of action. 

The Alabama 211 system will be an information hub for those who would like to volunteer and are unaffiliated or untrained. 

The Alabama-West Florida Conference will hold another call at noon on Monday. More information will be distributed at that time unless there is a need before then. Conference updates will be sent via e-mail, posted on the AWF Facebook page and also posted to the AWF Conference Web site main page. Thank you for planning ahead. We have learned a great deal in years past and feel as prepared as possible for what could head our way. To those already making a plan and assessing their situation, we thank you. Please continue to pray for minimal damage and for those in the path of the storm. 

Blessings,
Amelia Fletcher
Alabama-West Florida Conference Disaster Response Coordinator


Disaster Response Preparedness, August 23, 2012

published 8/23/2012

Friends,

The Alabama-West Florida Conference Disaster Response Team is on standby in preparation for Tropical Storm Isaac. We are closely watching the developments of this storm to see if it intensifies and the direction it will head. We have arranged a special conference call tomorrow afternoon with all conference disaster response coordinators to organize our efforts. We are also in communication with the Florida Conference as we anticipate where the storm will land.

Details about our efforts, how you can help and what is needed will be sent via e-mail, posted on Facebook and on the conference Web site as they are made clear to us. At the moment, we ask for your prayers for those that are in the line of the storm and for God to guide our efforts in the best way possible.

Blessings,
Amelia Fletcher
Alabama-West Florida Disaster Response Coordinator

 


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