Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Oklahoma wildfires: Update No. 2


Aug. 13, 2012

From Rev. Richard Norman, Disaster Response Coordinator

Volunteers In Mission, Oklahoma Conference


Oklahoma wildfires: Update No. 2


Damage totals grow


Several areas in Oklahoma have been devastated by wildfires since Aug. 3.  More than 400 families have lost their homes, according to estimates. More than 114,000 acres in 11 counties have burned, with one of the largest fires consuming 58,500 acres of Creek County, in the state’s northeastern quadrant. Damage assessments are being done by Oklahoma Emergency Management and FEMA representatives. 

Note:We are now at 603 families who have lost homes. Creek Co. (376), Cleveland Co. (141), Payne Co. (53), Oklahoma Co. (33).


United Methodists giving and serving


As of Aug. 13, United Methodists had given more than $15,000 to help through direct donations to the Oklahoma Conference’s General Disaster Fund and also at the Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) set up in heavily impacted communities.


These money gifts will buy school supplies and meet other needs of children who have lost all their possessions in the fires. One result: Oklahoma United Methodists helped the Olive School District purchase school supplies for 117 second- through fifth-grade students.  


United Methodists have been assisting those battling the fires and the survivors since the first day. Among UM churches that have opened their doors to shelter evacuees or serve as MARCs are: Sand Springs, Glencoe, Mannford, and Pawnee. 


Glencoe UMC and Mannford UMC, in cooperation with the Oklahoma VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), are hosting two of the MARCs.


Monetary gifts may be sent through your local church; to Oklahoma Volunteers In Mission; or to the Conference Treasurer’s Office, to the General Disaster Fund.  Note “2012 OK Wildfire Relief” on the memo line of checks for special offerings.


Please do NOT collect and donate clothing. As specific unmet needs or calls for other supplies are reported, they will be shared through updates by the VIM and Communications offices.


Volunteers needed


Local-Church AND District Disaster Response Coordinators 

As we continue to build our disaster ministry and as we become more involved in the wider disaster aid community, we need more people engaged in and committed to this ministry. Serving at a time of disaster is a great opportunity to learn the servant ministry of disaster response. If you or someone you know feels called to be involved, please contact Richard Norman: 405-530-2032 or RNorman@okumc.org.


Fire cleanup equipment and operators needed. 

Time and heavy equipment are needed accomplish cleanup tasks. There are currently 205 property sites scheduled for this. If you or someone you know has “Skid Steer”-type equipment and will offer it to assist in this work, please contact Rev. Norman.


Individuals and groups of volunteers are urged not to self-deploy. Best practices include a collaborative response, so people are directed to where their help and skills are most needed and will be most effective. Sign up to help through Volunteers In Mission (VIM): 405-530-2032, RNorman@okumc.org.


Disaster Case Management Coordinators and Managers

The greatest need for volunteers is in service as Disaster Case Management Coordinators and Managers.

UMCOR Disaster Case Management Training is a key element in the Long-Term Recovery process and gives volunteers the tools they need to do effective Disaster Case Management. This UMCOR training will:

• Help you identify and address survivors’ strengths and unmet recovery needs;

• Provide you with the skills, knowledge, and tools to link survivors with needed resources for recovery; and

• Prepare you for your role in restoring hope, rebuilding lives, and re-establishing homes.

If you are interested in Disaster Case Management, please contact Rev. Norman.


DIAL 211 assistance


For Oklahomans seeking non-emergency disaster or health/human services information, call 211. Services are available 24 hours a day. If you know people directly impacted by these wildfires, help them to make the call.

Within your community, reach out to offer ministry beyond the church’s membership. Some people may be hurting silently, without family or church connections, reluctant to ask for help.


Insights on the Disaster Response processes


Beyond immediate news media coverage of emergency operations after an Oklahoma disaster, many processes of assistance have begun. One of those first, vital steps is a daily conference call among a group of faith-based, non-profit, and governmental partners in disaster response.  This group is the Oklahoma VOAD. Representing Oklahoma United Methodists in this group is Rev. Norman of VIM. He also is chairman-elect of the Oklahoma VOAD.  Among our partners in this collaboration are the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Southern Baptists, Mennonites, and more.


Through the sharing in this group, we attain much information about a disaster, and many unmet needs of disaster victims are addressed. After the assessment reports are in, the Oklahoma VOAD will shift to assist in the formation of Long-Term Recovery Committees. This part of the work begins this week.  Your prayers and participation are very much desired and requested!



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