[Update] United Church of Christ Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery

May 9, 2007

General Synod
The National Disaster Ministry office in Cleveland has a booth and plenary time at General Synod in Hartford this summer. During a plenary time, a video will be shown which was produced during 2006 to show the work the United Church of Christ Disaster Response Ministry is doing in New Orleans, Florida and Biloxi. There will also be a booth in the display area with information about the ministry in each location and for those interested in New Orleans, Rev. Alan Coe, Minister for Disaster Recovery will be present for the entire Synod and will be available to speak about the work and ministry in New Orleans. There will be an opportunity to sign up at Synod to come and work in New Orleans as a group, family or individual.

Partners in Service
The Disaster Response ministry would not succeed without dedicated servants who come to New Orleans through the Partners in Service program of the U.C.C. These individuals use their gifts and talents working with groups, assessing work projects, working in our office and doing whatever is needed to make this a successful and rewarding ministry along the gulf coast. Ideally people serve for a period of three months to one year. The longer one is able to serve provides more consistency to the families in New Orleans we serve. It has been our experience that it takes a volunteer about six weeks to become acclimated to the ministry and the city of New Orleans. There are opportunities to serve for a one or two month period as well. For those who may be interested in serving for a longer period in New Orleans through the 'Partners in Service' program, there is specific information located at www.ucc.org.

The majority of work this ministry is doing now is rebuilding of peoples homes. There are still homes that remain untouched since the storm that need to be cleaned of belongings and stripped of walls and ceilings. Once in a while we have people work in these remaining homes but those are few and far between. If we perform that task now it is done as a service for the city of New Orleans. The city is aiming to have every property cleaned out by the second anniversary of the storm, August 29, 2007.

The rebuilding work is home rehabilitation. Each home is different in its make up. Each home is different in the extent of damage it suffered and repairs needed. Each family situation is different as well in how a family is able to fund the rehab of their home.

Our office utilizes local contract labor for electrical, plumbing and HVAC work. Most everything else is able to be done by volunteers that come with groups that come to work on a weekly basis.

There are always several projects being worked on any given week. Since a variety of talent comes on a week to week basis our office works to coordinate skills of a group with jobs on hand.

What you can do
Pray - for the people and city of New Orleans.
Pray - for the ministry of the South Central Conference Disaster Response.
Organize - a group to come and work in New Orleans in the near future. One person in eight should be talented in home repair/rehab and be able to lead a work crew.
Donate - funds to sustain and grow the work of the Disaster Response Ministry in New Orleans.
*Gift cards to Home Depot and Lowe's are welcome as a donation to the ministry in New Orleans. This allows the purchase of needed equipment and supplies to rebuild homes.
*Monetary donations may be sent to the South Central Conference office with the words 'New Orleans Disaster Ministry' on the memo line.
*Donations to Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM) and One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) allow ministries such as these to exist, please give generously.
Talk - about New Orleans with coworkers, family and friends.

Long Term Recovery Organizations
The United Church of Christ responds to any federally declared disaster it is able to and does so as an ecumenical partner with other voluntary organizations active in disaster response.

When that happens Long Term Recovery Organizations (LTRO) are formed. Each parish in the affected areas in southeast Louisiana has an LTRO. Simply put, these organizations meet the unmet needs of the affected population. There is also a regional recovery organization that works with each LTRO to offer guidance, consistency of purpose and expertise to each LTRO. This organization is the Greater New Orleans Disaster Recovery Partnership. The different committees within each organization are:

Case management – works with individual families to develop a plan for recovery.
Rebuild – works on various rebuilding issues as they arise during the recovery process.
Resource Development – Works to solicit and distribute donated goods, materials and funds.
Advocacy – works on various issues relating to the damage from the storm and mitigation issues to prevent further damage on a local, regional and national level.
Emotional and Spiritual Care – works with individuals families and agencies to provide needed support in an anxious society post Katrina. These LTRO's count as members every mainline church denomination, federal agencies, local non-profits and any organization that has money, muscle or material to aid in the recovery effort.

New Construction Coordinator
Tim Fonderlin will begin ministry in New Orleans Disaster Response Ministry in June. Tim has been hired as a staff person and will serve as our construction coordinator. For the last several years Tim and his wife Diane have been serving as Disciples of Christ missionaries in Southeast Asia with Habitat for Humanity. Tim brings years of experience working in a variety of settings. His addition to our staff will greatly enhance the ministry n New Orleans.


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