Louisiana State University Wesley Foundation students help remove debris from Hurricane Isaac.
By Susan Kim*
Sept. 11, 2012—On the ground with hurricane survivors in Louisiana, Tom Hazelwood often hears another name mentioned in the same breath as Isaac – Katrina.
The comparison of Isaac to the monster 2005 storm is inevitable, said Hazelwood, UMCOR's assistant general secretary for US Disaster Response.
“I have found almost everyone is comparing Isaac to Katrina,” he said, “with some people saying they received way more flooding from Isaac than from Katrina, and others saying Isaac is a non-event compared to Katrina.”
The constant coupling of the storms concerns Hazelwood because he believes people recovering from Isaac will have fewer resources – from the federal, state or local government, and from the corporate sector – available to them than Katrina survivors did.
“Among Isaac survivors, there is this anticipation that they will have the same resources now as they did during Katrina. That's the thing that worries me.”
This means it's even more important for UMCOR and its ecumenical partners to help vulnerable people who aren't going to receive enough funds and public attention over the long haul.
“We are counting on people in the pews to help Isaac survivors feel certain they haven't been forgotten,” he said.
Already, UMCOR's response is bringing hope to thousands of people as cleaning buckets are being distributed throughout hard-hit areas in Louisiana and Mississippi. Emergency Response Teams – which have received special training and credentials from UMCOR – have also been deployed and are helping survivors in the first phase of recovery.
The best way to help hurricane survivors is to give a monetary donation or to assemble cleaning buckets to replace those that have already left the UMCOR supply depots.
Nearly 5,000 cleaning buckets – a value of more than $500,000 – have been distributed to Isaac survivors, said Kathy Kraiza, UMCOR's executive director of Relief Supplies. Health kits are also being distributed.
“People need to send in more cleaning buckets to UMCOR's depots,” she said. “If a hurricane strikes next month, we'll need a replenished stock.”
In Louisiana, Darryl Tate, director of disaster response for the Louisiana Conference, watched people with flooded homes receive cleaning buckets. He said he realized how the United Methodist Church can really represent the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.
“I want people to know how much UMCOR is really there right now, helping people in their hour of need,” he said.
Help hurricane survivors now – and during their long-term recovery. Donate to US Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #901670 online. Or simply use your cell phone. Text RESPONSE to 80888 to give a $10 donation to provide immediate relief to those affected.
*Susan Kim is a journalist and regular contributor to www.umcor.org.