United Methodist Committee on Relief

UMCOR Responds to Hurricane Irma

By Mary Andreolli*

We will continue to update this page and UMCOR social media as we receive new information.  

Tuesday, October 3: Update on U.S. Disaster Response

The Florida Annual Conference is overwhelmed with the scale of damage and amount of need. Hurricane Irma caused widespread power outages, wind and water damage, and flooding. Florida is also taking in survivors from Puerto Rico. UMCOR and the Florida Annual Conference are working together as they consider options to expand operations and to address needs as they evolve. The annual conferences of the Southeastern Jurisdiction are all contributing to help in recovery.

Wednesday, September 27: Update on U.S. Disaster Response

This week, UMCOR Sager Brown is sending 3,700 cleaning buckets to Florida Annual Conference to support cleanup efforts. The cleaning kits will be distributed where they are most needed. More relief supply kits from UMCOR Sager Brown will be sent to other churches in Florida impacted by hurricane Irma. 

Florida Annual Conference is now receiving volunteers! Learn more about how you and your church can volunteer:

Monday, September 18: Update on U.S. Disaster Response

Cathy Earl, UMCOR’s director of U.S. disaster response, met with conference personnel to review and support The Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to optimize communication pathways, distribution of supplies, and coordination of volunteers as the conference plans for recovery. Staff have been assigned to manage communications for two weeks. Florida Annual Conference hired a director of recovery ministries and identified a volunteer coordinator. Barbara Tripp, UMCOR disaster response consultant, will follow up with Florida Annual Conference to help establish ERT reception and the volunteer network. Florida Annual Conference has been asked by FEMA to lead the case management task force. UMCOR will also be supporting this work through grants and technical guidance.

Friday, September 15, 2017: Update on U.S. Disaster Response

Cathy Earl, director of UMCOR’s U.S. disaster response departed Thursday, September 14, to Madison, Florida, where she will visit Florida communities impacted by Hurricane Irma. Earl will meet with the bishop of the Florida Annual Conference and others to discuss response plans, as well as to being discussions on recovery programs. Earl has been in daily contact with the conference disaster response coordinators since Hurricane Irma struck. 

Earl will also travel to the Rio Texas and Louisiana Annual Conferences to support the disaster response planning process in those locations. 

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) anticipates granting at least $500,000 in funds to each of the affected conferences after the assessment phase is complete and unmet needs are identified.

Wednesday, September 13: Update on the Caribbean

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St Martin/St Maarten, the British Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos are the islands most affected by hurricane Irma. Critical needs for supplies and support are being addressed around the clock. In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, local authorities are managing response and restoration to normal activities in the affected areas with local resources, as the effects are less than originally anticipated. Cuba withstood damage to 13 of its 15 provinces, reporting 10 deaths and damage to agriculture, water supply, and telecommunications. Humanitarian partners continue to work and coordinate with regional organizations and local governments throughout the affected countries as assessments continue to reveal the range and depth of the needs caused by Irma.

UMCOR International Disaster Response is currently in communication with our partners in the Caribbean and awaiting assessment analysis from them to provide effective relief to those affected by hurricane Irma. 

To support U.S. territories in the Caribbean, give to U.S. Disaster Response Advance #901670. To give to non-U.S. territories in the Caribbean, please donate to International Disaster Response Advance #982450

Monday, September 11: Update on the Caribbean   

Hurricane Irma has become one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic, a category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 295 km/hour. To date, it has passed over Barbuda, Saint Barthelemy, Anguilla, Saint Marten, British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Cuba, the Bahamas and currently passing through Florida with Georgia in line. Extensive damage has been reported in Barbuda and Anguilla where 70-90% of the buildings were destroyed. 27 people reported dead across affected territories, 34,000 people displaced in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Over 1 million people were evacuated along the coastline in central and eastern Cuba. 17,000 people are in need of immediate shelter across the affected eastern Caribbean islands. Assessments will take place over the coming days to determine the number of people in need of food assistance. More than 10,000 people are in temporary shelters in the North. The damage to the Dominican Republic was less than expected, with no fatalities reported. There is damage to water infrastructure that affects 1.2 million people, according to the national water authorities.

Livelihoods in affected communities are anticipated to be an area of need when recovery efforts begin. Widespread flooding has been recorded in northern Cuba including Havana. Concerns have been raised about possible waterborne disease outbreaks as flooding is likely to persist for 36 hours at least. Most of the coastal municipalities in affected countries are without electricity. Given the level of damage so far, Haiti and Cuba are likely to be our first areas of response outside of the U.S. and U.S. territories. This is because of the significant level of damage and our Methodist connections in these countries. We are awaiting response from MCCA about support to Barbuda and Anguilla.

UMCOR will continue to monitor Irma’s impact on the Caribbean and provide updates here. Please consider making a generous donation to U.S. Disaster Response Advance #901670 & International Disaster Response Advance #982450

5 Things You Can Do

1. Please continue to pray for those whose lives will be impacted by hurricane Irma. 
2. Make relief kits, send complete kits to our relief-supply depots or an affiliate warehouseDownload the packing list and shipping label.   

3. Partner with UMCOR in responding to the needs of communities and individuals impacted by hurricane Irma in the United States by giving to Advance #901670:

To give by mail:

Advance GCFA
P.O. Box 9068 
New York, NY 10087-9068
Please note in the memo line: Advance 901670

4. Donate only those items requested. 
5. Please wait for an invitation to volunteer.

Download this UMCOR church bulletin insert to share 5 Things You Can Do in response to Irma.   

To keep relief supplies in stock, give to Material Resources Advance #901440.   

UMCOR - United Methodist Committee On Relief is grateful for your relentless prayers and support.  

To give online: