Flooding in our communities

Since March of 2020, our Episcopal Area has witnessed one crisis after another, most of them weather-related.

  • March tornado
  • Covid pandemic concerns
  • May winds causing Middle Tennessee power outage
  • Christmas bombing in Nashville
  • March floods

Now August flooding. Our hearts are heavy this week as our neighbors in Waverly, New Johnsonville, McEwen, and Hickman County begin the long arduous task of recovering from last weekend’s flash flooding event. 

Three days into the search and rescue efforts there remain many people unaccounted for. The recovery will be slow. It will be long. It will require resilience from the survivors who will not have all the resources necessary to rebuild. Unlike a tornado that hits one neighborhood and spares another, a flood overwhelms entire communities.

Robert Craig, the Disaster Response Coordinator for our Episcopal Area is already working with agencies that respond best. The primary coordination of volunteers in a disaster like this is done through the state VOAD – Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. This is a non-profit association of over 60 organizations, including the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), who engage in every aspect of recovery. 

When disaster strikes, the United Methodist Church always responds. It is one of the hallmarks of our Connection. The strength of United Methodists through UMCOR is quality training and formation for long-term recovery as well as disaster case management. We give thanks that already, UMCOR is responding with an initial disaster response grant that the conference can utilize to get support where it is most needed. Also, supplies are already in transit from the UMCOR Warehouse in Decatur and from the Holston Conference. 

Our districts are currently identifying collection points if your church wants to contribute specific requested items that will include cleaning buckets and hygiene kits. Details will be available later this week at twkumc.org/disaster-response.

When our trained Emergency Response Teams are invited in, we will be ready to deploy. Until then, there really is not a great deal that untrained volunteers can do right now. Unsolicited volunteers cause an additional burden on communities that are already overwhelmed in the rescue phase. As the county leaders communicate the time for larger relief efforts to begin, the UMC and many other partners will offer our human resources. 

The TWK Conference and UMCOR will be working with the Tennessee State VOAD to coordinate our efforts in responding to the storm. We will be working with Inspiritus (formerly Lutheran Services of Tennessee), to follow their lead in cleanup efforts and coordination. 

As we are learning, several hundred homes have been flooded. There will be needs to feed and shelter those who have been displaced. The VOAD will be coordinating these efforts. Robert Craig will alert us daily with the ways we can respond once the timeframe for relief has been determined.

This effort is developing and ongoing. Watch for updates on TWKUMC social media and at twkumc.org about how and when you can help. 

When Early Response Teams are welcomed into the impacted areas, Clifton Tackett, TWK Conference ERT Coordinator, will coordinate their deployment. If you are an UMCOR trained Early Response Team member and have not heard from Clifton, please reach out to him directly (dctackett02@gmail.com). All other volunteers should wait until it is possible to deploy untrained volunteers.

Monetary donations are the best way to quickly help the Conference respond and assist those in need.

  • Checks can be made out and mailed to the Tennessee Conference (with Disaster Response in the memo line) at PO Box 440132, Nashville, TN 37244

Your prayers and your financial gifts are deeply appreciated.

Bishop McAlilly