Storm story -- Snapshot of a bigger picture

4/8/2016

To better understand The United Methodist Church’s promise to help disaster victims, look at how money from one grant was spent after the devastating May 2013 tornadoes in Oklahoma.

These numbers track a grant awarded by the United Way of Central Oklahoma: $1.42 million to Oklahoma United Methodist Church Disaster Response (OKUMC-DR), to repair and rebuild survivors’ homes.

Richard Norman recently summarized what that specific gift accomplished between December 2013 and June 2015.

He noted this is a snapshot of that grant only; other major donations are not part of this report. He coordinates disaster response for the Oklahoma Conference.

OKUMC-DR leveraged the funds in ways that almost doubled the donor’s dollars, to more than $2.6 million, according to Rev. Norman’s summary.

That was achieved by establishing and managing a working capital fund that allowed, on most occasions, for payment of contractors and materials suppliers within five days. This financial process ensured good working relationships with contractors and encouraged priority response to disaster survivors, according to the report.

In total, 994 people received help from the Church through this grant. United Methodists completed 453 projects during the reporting period.

One chart identifies those jobs by county, including:

  • 211 in Cleveland County;
  • 101 in Oklahoma County;
  • 68 in Canadian County; and
  • 62 in Pottawatomie County.

United Methodists partnered with others on additional projects that used some of the grant funds, ultimately serving 688 households.

Among the cities where survivors received help: Newalla, Oklahoma City, Moore, El Reno, Shawnee, Carney, McLoud, and Norman.

The United Way funds also secured storage facilities, tool purchases, and project management software.

Norman reported 3,345 Church volunteers completed 61,521 hours of labor on homes. Those efforts were valued at $1.3 million.

These numbers fill only one chapter in a much bigger story. The denomination serves people in crisis all over the world, with the goal of delivering help where it is most needed.

Sometimes United Methodists provide aid in cooperation with other groups. Some of the Church’s specific work is well known; UMCOR* gets wide praise for best practices in case management, for example. Many times, as Norman has documented, United Methodist disaster response ministry quietly continues for years.

(*UMCOR = United Methodist Committee on Relief)

Related story:  OK grateful to volunteers still coming from outside state

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