Tuesday, Oct. 30: United Methodists report on storm damage

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United Methodist News Service will continue to update this information throughout the day.

NEW YORK — The United Methodist Committee on Relief has made contact with disaster response coordinators in the denomination’s New York and Greater New Jersey annual (regional) conferences, but little information is available at this time.

The Rev. Tom Hazelwood, UMCOR’s U.S. disaster response coordinator, said he spoke with the Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie of the New York Conference early Tuesday afternoon. Among the areas of expected focus for their disaster response efforts will be Long Island and a section of Queens near LaGuardia Airport. “They’re still waiting to get reports in,” he said.

Katherine Earl, a member of Hazelwood’s team, spoke with the Rev. Wayne Jones, the disaster response coordinator for Greater New Jersey. “He’s trapped in his house.,” Hazelwood said. “He’s got trees down all around…and he can’t get out.” The conference’s early response team coordinator is assisting Jones. The Greater New Jersey disaster team expects to have a conference call later today to start organizing their response. 1:30 p.m. ET, Linda Bloom, UMNS

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MADISON, N.J. — The campus of United Methodist-related Drew University is expected to be without power for the next several days because of Hurricane Sandy. All classes, activities and events through Sunday, Nov. 4, have been canceled or postponed, including registration for spring courses. In a message on its website, the university said it hopes to reopen residence halls Sunday afternoon and resume a normal class schedule on Monday. 4:10 p.m. ET, Linda Bloom, UMNS

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PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. — The Rev. Hector Burgos of Oasis Hispanic Ministry United Methodist Church said Oasis is slightly flooded and lost power but damage to the area is extensive. His second church, Tuckerton United Methodist, is not accessible because the roads to the island where Tuckerton is located are all flooded. As anticipated, all the barrier islands are flooded, Burgos said, but no personal injuries or loss are reported so far.

The other 25 to 30 churches on the coastal area, in the Cape May and Long Beach Islands, are expected to be damaged by floodwaters. Burgos said congregations were instructed carefully to evacuate before the storm. He said people were surprised by a strong second surge of the hurricane that hit at 11 p.m. yesterday. They thought the first slam of the hurricane was the one they felt around 7 p.m.

Burgos said he and other pastors in the area are trying to assess the damages. Churches in the district have established a network and are communicating through cell phones, which are being charged in their cars. Temperatures are in the 40’s and it is cold. Burgos is working with the electric company to have electricity restored at Oasis so he can open a day shelter for people and offer water and coffee.

Some men in the Oasis congregation have been helping the Red Cross as volunteers to assess damage, provide help to the shelters and help with translation when needed. Burgos said the Red Cross has received calls from 750 people needing help. The volunteers who helped throughout the night are resting, so now they are in need of volunteers and are going to churches for more volunteers.

One of the most damaged areas in New Jersey is Atlantic City. Burgos said most Hispanics in the area work in the hotels, so there will be a major financial crisis for the people who rely on jobs at the hotels and casinos. “If they do not work, they will not have income,” he said. 12 p.m. ET, Amanda Bachus, UMNS

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Superstorm Sandy delivered a punch of heavy snow and rain to West Virginia Tuesday night into early this morning, leaving about 250,000 without power.

Heavy, wet snow has made some roads impassable, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has urged citizens to stay off the roads as crews work to clear them. Part of I-68 from Preston County to the Maryland state line was shut down due to several tractor trailers being stuck in snow on the interstate.

The Rev. Cheryl George, pastor of the Aurora Charge in Aurora, W.Va., described the county as a “no-go” zone. “More roads are closed than open, Route 50 is not safe,” she said. The Charleston Gazette reported that 91 percent of Preston County’s customers are without power. Several inches of heavy wet snow fell in the Charleston metro area, leading 34 of 55 county school systems to cancel classes for the day.

Conference Disaster Response Coordinators, the Rev. Dan and Sue Lowther, spent yesterday preparing the conference for Sandy’s arrival. They have about 300 cleaning buckets and 1,500 health kits ready to disperse as needed. Churches should contact their district office if they need assistance from the disaster response team. 12:00 p.m. ET, West Virginia Conference website

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ELLICOTT, Md. — While the news media focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath, volunteers cared for evacuees in shelters provided by many faith groups, DisasterNewsNetwork reports. A spokesperson for the United Methodist Committee on Relief contacted all annual conferences in the church’s Northeastern Jurisdiction in preparation for the storm and encouraged members to give to Hurricanes 2012, Advance 3021787 www.umcor.org. The Rev. Wayne Jones, disaster response coordinator for the Greater New Jersey Conference, said he expected to deploy early-response teams once the storm moved out of the state. Read full story.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  — “Most of us know someone being impacted by this storm,” Bishop Gary Mueller said in a note to the Arkansas Conference on Oct. 30. “All of us are joining in prayer that the loss will be minimal, the healing deep and the recovery quick.” He added that disasters as large as Sandy’s wreckage “have a unique way of uniting people who often are divided by ideology, religion, ethnicity, region or political views.” He said he already has seen evidence of this cooperative spirit and he prays it will continue until the end of cleanup. 12: 15 p.m. ET, Heather Hahn, UMNS

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NEW YORK — During a morning news conference, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s two big challenges will be getting mass transit running again and restoring power. He announced that the public schools will be closed again Wednesday for the third consecutive day. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a late morning press conference that 90 percent of households on Long Island have lost power. 11 a.m. ET, Linda Bloom, UMNS

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HARRISBURG, Penn. — Stephen Drachler (near Progress, Pa.): Digging out after Sandy. Everyone safe. Jack the dog even managed to do his business in 50mph winds! A tree fell across wires five houses up the street. My guess we are low on the priority list. So, it’s time to party. (Getting breakfast and charging phones) Offering prayer of thanksgiving and concern for those who are really In trouble. 11:15 a.m. ET, Barbarba Dunlap-Berg, UMNS

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NEW YORK — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, in news conference, said damage to the Jersey Shore, where he’s being going all his life, was much worse than he anticipated. “I didn’t expect to see homes off their foundations and in the middle of highways.” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced during a 10 a.m. press conference that 2.4 million households in the state are without power, twice as many as from Hurricane Irene. 10:30 a.m. ET, Linda Bloom, UMNS

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NEW YORK – Tom Hazelwood, UMCOR: All is well here at the Hazelwood house in Virginia. It appears the worst is in New Jersey and New York. Today will be a day of gathering information. UMCOR’s partners in the annual conferences are ready and the power of God’s servants will go to work now.10: 15 a.m. ET. Linda Bloom, UMNS

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NEW YORK – Bruce Bergquist, member, Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, United Methodist: Seems all is well for the most part for those of us on the Upper West Side (of Manhattan). Pretty quiet, a little drizzle, sun’s trying to peek through…and have power. 10:15 a.m. ET. Linda Bloom, UMNS

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NEW YORK – Philip Jenks, long-time communicator with the National Council of Churches, reports on Facebook that his home is without electricity in Port Chester, a village in Westchester County, but did not sustain the flooding in that area. …Amanda Mountain, staff with United Methodist Women: We are ok here in Washington Heights (upper Manhattan). Subways are flooded, which is a major problem. We pray for those who did not come through the storm so lucky. …Michelle Scott Okabayaski, formerly of UMCOR: All’s well in our corner of Brooklyn. We’re praying for friends who are in places that fared much worse. …Jaydee Hanson, former staff with United Methodist Board of Church and Society, who lives in DC region: Made coffee despite there being no power. Neighbor behind us lost a large oak, but that is not the one that took out the neighborhood’s power. Another fallen oak on Sycamore street fell across the power lines and the road. One good way to slow traffic on a busy street. 10:11 ET. Linda Bloom, UMNS

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ASBURY PARK, N.J. — New Jersey Area Bishop John Schol says “Thank you everyone for your prayers. We have been hit pretty hard in NJ. We are encouraging GNJ UM’s to check in with neighbors and as able support area shelters by volunteering and providing supplies. We are making grants for humanitarian needs to churches and community orgs who are assisting people. Keep your DSes informed of needs. We are working on getting our servers up by noon through generators. Keep the faith! Bishop John” 9:15 ET, Barbara Dulap-Berg, UMNS

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NEW YORK – United Methodist Women: Due to the storm our website and email is currently offline. It may take a little longer for us to get back with you if you are trying to reach us. Sending love and prayers to those in hard hit areas.

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BLOOMFIELD, N.J. — Wendy Whiteside: We are OK. Trees down, but we have electricity. … Oh, the music the day after a storm. Chain saws and generators! 9:35 a.m. ET, Barbara Dunlap-Berg, UMNS

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HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. — The Rev. Bob Mayer, Drakestown UMC, Hackettstown, NJ: All’s quiet, except for the drone of the neighbor’s generator. 9:20 a.m. ET, Barbarba Dunlap-Berg, UMNS

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MAPELEWOOD, N.J. — The Rev. Chris Heckert: Morrow United Methodist Church has power. Doors are open for those who need a place to charge phones or get a cup of coffee. 9:20 a.m. ET

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NEW YORK – Linda Unger of the United Methodist Committee on Relief: We still have power in my Bronx neighborhood. Trains–all trains, including subways and commuter trains– and NYC buses are still not running, and the only river crossing that is functioning is the Lincoln Tunnel in Midtown. All other bridges and tunnels are closed. A lot of the surrounding roadways going to the suburbs also remain closed. I believe about 4.3 million households in the New York – New Jersey – CT area are without power. I’m going to take a short walk around the neighborhood and see what it looks like here. From my window, it doesn’t look bad right here, but it’s an entirely different story in Manhattan and Queens. 7:24 a.m. ET

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PITTSBURGH – Jackie Campbell of the Western Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference: News outlets around Western Pennsylvania are reporting relatively minor damage from Hurricane Sandy, with some flooding and power outages. Flooding remains a concern. Many schools were ordered closed today in anticipation of the storm; others are on delays. Southeastern PA seems to be hardest hit in our state. 1.2 million people reported without power statewide this morning, most in SE PA. 9:45 a.m. ET

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