Dear Clergy and Lay Delegates of the Texas Annual Conference,
As you are well aware, many within our conference boundaries have suffered devastating property damage and personal loss as a result of tornadoes in Van and elsewhere. Most recently, and as many of you witnessed during Annual Conference, torrential rains flooded the greater Houston area, Wharton, Tyler, Richmond/Rosenberg, and beyond. You have already responded generously to the initial appeal for funds to help Van recovery. Including a $10,000 grant from UMCOR, we have already raised over $30,000 in response to this need. Thank you!
Sadly the devastation of spring storms has caused suffering and hardship all across our conference bounds. We need to expand our circle of compassion to embrace the needs created by all of this weather, in addition to Van. Our goal is to raise $500,000. I am asking you to continue to give with the same extravagant generosity with which you have always given. That kind of generosity is part of our DNA as United Methodists! I am asking you to take up a special offering this Sunday for "Spring Storms" and remit the funds as soon as possible. The need is urgent and upon us.
- In Van, we still need an additional $60,000 to fill the gap in putting 20 families back into their homes.
- In the Meyerland/greater Houston area alone, the initial estimates are that well over 1,000 homes have sustained significant damage and either have no flood insurance or inadequate insurance. This round of flooding went beyond the 100 year flood plan established after Alison, meaning that many of these homes carried no flood insurance.
- Rivers outside of Houston have not yet crested and there may be further damage to homes and other property yet to come in those areas. Every district in the conference has been impacted in some measure, with almost every river and tributary within our boundaries at or near flood stage.
We want to be out front, making sure that people have food and other immediate needs met in these first weeks of crisis. Some of the funds will be used for grocery store gift cards to insure that people can eat while they deal with their lives being turned upside down. Recovery is going to be a long-term process as insurance and FEMA claims are processed and resources allocated. We want to be ready to fill in the gap where families and individuals are not made whole by those resources.
Because United Methodists were there at the beginning with an outpouring of volunteers and because of the generosity of Westbury United Methodist Church in allowing us to set up a command center in the heart of one of the hardest hit areas, Westbury UMC is going to become the location of the Multi-Agency Resource Center for the City of Houston's response. It is our privilege to be called upon to provide this service.
Our disaster response teams and volunteers will be working side by side with the City of Houston, FEMA, the Red Cross and others to insure that funds are utilized where most needed. Your generous gifts will allow us to continue to meet the needs of those most affected throughout the conference by these recent disasters. Thank you in advance for always stepping up to the plate and meeting the need.
Grace and Peace,