United Methodists currently are playing key roles in flood relief efforts in two southwestern Pennsylvania counties after heavy rain caused creeks to rise, affecting dozens of families and forcing some from their homes in the Waynesburg and Rogersville areas of Greene County the weekend before Christmas. See news video report.
As assessments and early response efforts got underway there, recovery work by Volunteers in Mission teams and recovery coordinators in Connellsville area continue. More than 150 homes were affected in August 28-29 flooding there. Volunteer teams will be needed in both areas in the months to come to help families recover. In both areas, damage estimates do not reach the levels required to qualify for government recovery funding.
In Greene County, United Methodist leaders in disaster response and local churches were among those gathered by representatives of Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Greene County Emergency Management Agency for a briefing on the situation. Others involved inlcuded The United Way, Community Action Southwest, Salvation Army, Greene Co. Human Services, Catholic Charities, Greater Waynesburg Christian Outreach, and the Lions Club.
The groups are working together to coordinate assisting those with damage to homes and personal belongings. Some of the organizations had clothing or personal items on hands, so those types of donations were not needed. Housing and basic needs were the priorities for the response. "Of the gravest concern is that furnaces and hot water tanks have been damaged and need to be replaced so that families can safely be in their own homes. Many households do not have the extra funds to handle those expenses, especially at this time of year.or additional donations of clothing or personal items at this time because items are already available through these organizations," said WPAUMC Missions Coordinator Stephanie Gottschalk.
Since funds are currently the biggest need, a single fund was set up to collect financial donations. First United Methodist Church (112 N. Richhill St., Waynesburg, PA 15370) is serving as the fiscal agent. Checks should be made out to “First UMC Waynesburg” with a notation on the check for “Greene County Flood Fund.” 100% of the funds gathered will be used directly for this flood response in Greene County.
Trained volunteers are also being offered to individuals who would like assistance with cleanup and mold remediation. Christy Orndorff, United Methodist District Disaster Response Coordinator, will serve as the volunteer contact. She can be reached at 724-627-6805.
Early Response Team trainings will be held on Jan. 14 at Ingomar UMC and Jan. 28 at First UMC in Waynesburg. For details, visit wpaumc.org/disasterresponse.
To volunteer a team for Connellsville Area flood recovery work, visit connellsvillevolunteers.org.