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By Rev. Tom Mattick

With fires, floods, and disasters amid the COVID pandemic, the Desert Southwest Conference Early Response Teams are actively engaged in relief efforts. In June, as many as 14 persons went to Globe, AZ to assist the Salvation Army and other agencies to sort relief supplies for survivors of the flooding resulting from the Telegraph Fire just south of the Globe-Miami area. Flash flooding from monsoon rains inundated the area closing roads, damaging homes, and distressing the residents. Our team provided critical support in getting needed supplies ready for distribution in the community.

In July, a team of 10 from our Conference and one from our neighboring CAL-PAC Conference, responded to a call from the Louisiana Conference for persons to re-tarp damaged roofs and remove drywall from water inundated homes in Lake Charles. Based out of University UMC there, the team replaced roof tarps on four homes and removed debris and drywall from another two. At that time before Hurricane Ida, the area was hit by two hurricanes (Laura and Delta), a winter freeze bursting pipes, and a major flood in less than 9 months. Our host pastor shared with the team in a thank you note:

“You were the 3rd and final team to muck out and stabilize (Mrs. Judy’s) home. Together y’all filled 2 dumpsters! Yesterday we were able to get a hot water heater installed for her…. She had her first shower in her home since May 17! Thank you for being an answer to her prayers.”

In August, a total of 13 workers responded to flooding in Gila Bend. With four inches of rain in a short period of time, two people lost their lives, 100 were rescued and more than 100 buildings were damaged. One person that lost her home was the fire chief, Arelia Henry, who stayed on duty serving others as her personal residence was destroyed. Our team, according to Polly Turner and Jo Robinson:

“Teams worked very fast and efficiently, and was amazed by the Tues/Wed project, all made in the 1930s of old railroad ties stacked up with 2x4s in irregular places, and 4 different types of interior siding, including concrete wallboard, old fashioned wallboard, wire with concrete plasters on it, paneling… The scariest electricity ever! And 2-4 inches of mud to chip out. It was originally a little clinic but had at least 2 additions, one on each side. And it still sits about 25 feet from the main drainage ditch that runs through town.”

Looking forward, we anticipate an invitation from the Louisiana Conference for assistance following hurricane Ida. (See related article.) To be ready for our missions, training will be available in September and October. The ERT training is an 8-hour class covering the basics of our mission, how to respond to natural disasters, working with survivors, and basic safety protocols. Visit https://dscumc.org/ert to find the latest news and training dates.

As individuals and congregations, you are encouraged to donate to UMCOR and our Conference Disaster Response funds. Locally your money will be used to maintain and service our ERT trailer, purchase equipment (PPE), fund some of the expenses to deploy, and build fire relief buckets.The donation link is available on the dscumc.org/ert page and here: https://dscumc.org/secure/dsc-early-response-team-ert-donation.

Thank you for your participation.

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