Hurricane Sandy Early Response in New Jersey

Diane Miller




Hurricane Sandy – Early Response in New Jersey
At least through December, and probably through January (as long as it takes), New Jersey regions affected by this disaster will be in clean-up and assessment mode. Volunteers are now invited who do not have special early response team training, as long as they have some people on their teams who have that training and the badges that go with it. 
These teams …
  • muck out churches and homes
  • tear out carpet and drywall that has been flooded
  • spray chemicals to destroy the black mold that is there
  • assist with assessment
  • and always – listen empathetically to neighbors, home owners and hosts as they share their stories.  
Often the homeowners are in a shelter some place, and not there to help. Sensitivity to their possessions is a must. Flexibility is a must, as hosting sites get their acts together to supply what visiting teams need to do the job. These first teams will be sleeping in churches and doing their own cooking. They must be self-sufficient.
Early teams need to be aware of the situations where they will be working. There is no heat in many of the homes, so volunteers must dress accordingly. Often homes have been lifted off their foundations and the gas company won’t turn on the gas until the house has been inspected and judged okay for safety. 
Within WPA conference we’re trying to get a team every week that’s willing to respond to the need during this phase. I recommend five day trips – teams drive one day, work three days, and drive home one day.
During the month of December I hope we can also involve college students home on break. This is a tough time of the year when people are focused on their own families and churches; the temperature and working conditions are very rough; the work of tearing out and witnessing the destruction is depressing; the fine-tuning of hosting teams is being learned.
Let me know and I will put your name in my spread sheet and send you occasional emails with updates, contact info for disaster coordinators, and information about teams that are forming. I have on that spread sheet churches interested in partnering with other churches to get them back on their feet. I’m hoping since our bishop has a close relationship with the NJ bishop he will be able to set this up. If you have people wanting to volunteer during this early phase and want to set up your own team, we can work together and I’ll try to get you joiners who have the ERT certification, as long as you have a VIM trained leader. If you have people who want to join teams that are forming, I’ll keep you posted with options. Right now this is what we’re working on…
  • A team to be led by Rick Nelson (Conference Disaster Response Coordinator) – Dec 26-30 (or 27-31) – 724-651-6155 or
To receive a location and confirmed dates:
  • Send email to
  • List name and contact info, church, annual conference, team size, dates available to respond
  • Greater New Jersey Conference Disaster Team Representative will contact you
Teams are encouraged to have one ERT-trained person for every two who are not ERT-trained.
When we get to the recovery phase, UMCOR is estimating three years to work on rebuilding. One of the challenges is to keep the disaster in the mind’s eye of good people – to keep reminding them of the need and that the time is right to volunteer.
If you’d like a phone conversation for brainstorming or answering questions, let me know when to call and provide your number. Please keep me posted when you set up your own teams…
Diane Miller
Mission/VIM Coordinator
Western Pennsylvania Conference
United Methodist Church
140 Boone's Way
Kennerdell, PA  16374
814-498-2308 (o)



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