Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard move through flooded Houston streets as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey continue to rise, Monday, August 28, 2017. More than 12,000 members of the Texas National Guard have been called out to support local authorities in response to the storm. U.S. Army photo courtesy of 1st Lt. Zachary West. For more information, visit
On Aug. 24, the National Hurricane Center noted that Hurricane Harvey was quickly strengthening and is forecast to be a category 3 Hurricane when it approaches the middle Texas coast. In addition, life-threatening storm surge and freshwater flooding expected. Photo courtesy of the NOAA/NASA GOES Project. Click on this image to get more information.

By Jim Truitt | Photos courtesy of the NOAA/NASA GOES Project, et. al.

Everyone can help.

Texas National Guard and Texas Task Force responders conduct aerial search and rescue in Rockport, Holiday Beach, and Port Aransas area. Photo courtesy of the US National Guard. Click on this image for more information.

In the world of disaster response, we say there are the three Ps. There are the PLAYERS: volunteers who give of their time and talents to help survivors begin the long journey back to recovery. There are the PAYERS: ones who help the PLAYERS financially by contributing to the cost of travel, lodging, food, tools and equipment. There are the PRAYERS: everyone fits into this category. We can all pray for those who have been impacted by the disaster and for those who are responding to the call for help.

Over the next several weeks and probably months, United Methodist Early Response Teams (ERTs) from across the nation will converge on Southeastern Texas at the invitation of the local Disaster Response Coordinators (DRC). They will help do damage assessments; clean up the debris; “muck out” the flooded homes; make the homes safe sanitary and secure; provide spiritual and emotional care; and do whatever they are asked to help move survivors toward recovery and their new normal. If you are a trained ERT, look at your availability to join others for this important trip to Texas. They are not quite ready to accept outside ERTs as yet so, if you are not a trained ERT, prayerfully consider attending the next ERT training at Marysville UMC on Sept. 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and joining a team sometime in October or November.

What about putting houses back together? There will be plenty of time to do that. FEMA has guidelines to estimate how long it will take to recover from a disaster. For example, Hurricane Harvey made land fall on Friday, August 25. That’s 5 days ago (as of this moment of writing). If the storm was over right now and all the rescues were complete, it would take at least 50 days for the relief phase (ERT activity) and 500 days for the recovery/rebuild (UMVIM). This is only a guideline; the size of this disaster will make it much more on the scale of the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, which is still going on 12 years later. There will be a continued need for volunteers to help rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by the storm for many months to come. You can begin now to plan how your church can send a team or teams to Texas to help them rebuild.

How can you help financially? If you want to help the ERTs get to and from Texas, you can contribute to the Conference Advance #353 through your church or send a check to the Conference Treasurer at PO Box 13650, Des Moines, WA 98198. Put Advance #353 on the memo line. If you would like to contribute to the recovery effort, you can contribute to UMCOR by visiting Or, you can donate through your church by putting USDR Advance #901670 on the memo line.

You can also help by making Relief Supply Kits. Visit for instructions on how to make these kits.

One last word of caution: please do not donate “stuff” unless something is specifically asked for. About 75% – 80% of the “stuff” donated in a disaster is never wanted or used. It is much more efficient to donate money to a reputable charitable organization that is directly associated with the disaster recovery.

Jim Truitt serves as the PNW Disaster Response Coordinator for the PNWUMC.


Leave a Reply