United Methodists join in Staten Island relief

When John Stonick wants to show how high the floodwaters of Hurricane Sandy were as they swept down the street of his New Dorp Beach neighborhood on Staten Island, he raises his hands far above his head.

Stonick, who estimates he has been through six floods during his 60 years on Staten Island, barely had time to jump in his car and escape. Usually, he could handle such storms, but Sandy was exceptional. “Nothing like this in probably hundreds of years,” he said.

“So many people lost everything in that storm,” saidthe Rev. Matt Schaeffer, pastor of Bethel United Methodist Church and site coordinator of conference’s disaster response center there on Staten Island.

Bethel hosted an Early Response Training class a week after the hurricane. Soon, a routine for dispatching volunteer teams for clean-up evolved. “We’ve had teams rolling in from all over the United States,” he noted, mostly from places east of the Mississippi.

In mid-December, Scott Mikkelson, Bethel’s volunteer coordinator for Sandy relief, walked down a New Dorp block where United Methodist volunteer teams were working on 13 of the 40 closely-packed houses. “There’s hundreds of (damaged) blocks that are just like this (on Staten Island).”

Homeowners were a bit leery when volunteers first arrived, he explained, but word has spread that the United Methodists are here to help.

Mikkelson pointed to an example of the interior demolition work, which started at two feet

above the high water mark in a house and eliminates everything below because, as he noted, “the mold will grow behind the walls if it’s not removed.”

One of the volunteers, Barb Adams, is on her fifth volunteer trip to Staten Island from Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) United Methodist Church, a two-and-a-half hour drive north.

She knows their efforts are needed and appreciated. “Every time I bring a team down, I get emails asking when can we go back again,” she said.

Adams is well aware that this is only the beginning of the recovery. “It’s not the lead story in the news anymore, but you come down here and it’s still staggering every time you see a house like this,” she said, looking around a gutted interior.

Even now, six weeks later, her team found a house that had not been touched since the hurricane. “I wonder how many houses are still like that.”

Poughkeepsie United Methodist Church hopes to send teams to Staten Island several times a month for as long as it takes. “You feel like you make a difference, even if it’s just one little house, one little project,” Adams said.

New York Area Bishop Martin McLee says he saw the need to make the connection between volunteers and Sandy survivors during his own visit to New Dorp Beach in November.

He’s been pleased with the relief efforts from both inside the conference — where some 500 have recently received early response training — and outside, as teams have come in from 16 states, Swtizerland and Canada. . “The result has been an amazing, on-the-ground effort,” the bishop reported.

McLee has appreciated the many messages of prayer that have come with the other forms of support. “It’s just wonderful to know that as a connectional church, we come together as family,” he says.

Donations to assist the church’s Sandy recovery efforts can be sent to UMCOR.

Providing hot meals, supplies after Sandy

Mearl Grant watched his car float down the street when Hurricane Sandy struck Far Rockaway, Queens, N.Y., but his immediate response to the disaster was to give away food from the lunch program at the United Methodist Center there to storm-affected residents.

Watch video interview with Art McClanahan

*McClanahan, director of communications for the Iowa Annual Conference, conducted and edited the video interviews linked in this story, which was written by Bloom, a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York. Follow her at http://twitter.com/umcscribe.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or[email protected].


Like what you're reading?  United Methodist Communications is celebrating 80 years of ministry! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community.  Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Racism
The Rev. David Maldonado. Video image courtesy of IMU Latina (Iglesia Metodista Unida Latina) via YouTube by UM News.

Church must hear Hispanic/Latino voices

The lack of voices from Latin America represents a major gap in the global conversations occurring in The United Methodist Church.
Mission and Ministry
Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan (in red stole) and a team of United Methodists pray over generators for the Bicol Philippines Conference. The generators from United Methodist Communications are being loaned to churches to provide free charging to communities affected by a series of powerful typhoons in the Philippines. Photo by Jerome Mercado.

United Methodists rally to help typhoon survivors

From sheltering evacuees to raising money, gathering supplies and sharing generators, Filipino United Methodists and church partners are embracing those affected by recent storms.
Mission and Ministry
A nurse at Lokolé United Methodist Hospital in Kindu, Congo, returns a child to his mother after a routine immunization session. The United Methodist Church’s hospitals and clinics are helping vaccinate thousands of children each year in the country. Photo by Chadrack Tambwe Londe, UM News.

Church celebrates end of measles, Ebola outbreaks in Congo

United Methodist health centers in remote areas were key in helping to immunize children and end a measles epidemic that killed more than 7,000.