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Helping hands following 3 disasters

Texas survivors struggle following two floods and tornadoes

BY SUSAN KIM, THE UNITED METHODIST COMMITTEE ON RELIEF | December 12, 2015

In Navarro County, Texas, where there was little history of disaster, residents have just experienced their third round of storms and flooding this year. In May, October, and November, central Texas bore the brunt of bad weather that has left not only physical damage but frustration among residents who are wondering when the rain will stop.

Navarro County is just one of many counties across Texas and Oklahoma that have experienced flooding, tornadoes, and straight-line winds.

At the end of November, a Presidential Disaster Declaration made federal assistance available to eligible individuals and business owners in 15 Texas counties.

Although the declaration was a piece of good news, residents are feeling the effects of multiple disasters, said Laraine Waughtal, disaster response coordinator for the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church.

“Many are starting all over again,” she said. “They are frustrated.”

Trained Early Response Teams were an important part of response, completing muck-outs and tarping roofs, said Waughtal. The United Methodist Church has been one of the largest organizations — along with the American Red Cross — to respond, she added.

Waughtal urged people to contribute to a recovery that will likely take years. “Resources are running out and agencies are running out of money because of the widespread flooding across the state,” she said.

Long-term recovery is just beginning, and volunteer teams will be needed in central Texas for months to come, said Waughtal.

With support from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), long-term recovery will bring a sense of new normalcy back to Texas, she said. “We have also been blessed with a generous gift from the Louisiana Conference in support of our recovery and also out of gratitude when we have sent them money helping them after the storms. The connectional system is wonderful!”

Repeat disasters are difficult both in terms of physical damage and psychological toll, said Greg Forrester, UMCOR executive in charge of U.S. Disaster Response.

"Three disasters in five months — flooding, tornadoes, flooding once again. It’s not only one community — it’s multiple communities in that region,” he said, “and we are finding that many residents were severely under-insured or had no flood insurance."

As long-term recovery begins, Forrester is already envisioning how UMCOR will support disaster risk reduction efforts to help protect these communities from further damage. “There is no reason these homes have to flood again and again," he said.

Your gift to UMCOR U.S. Disaster Response, Advance #901670, helps UMCOR respond to disaster-impacted communities — immediately and in the long-term.


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