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Disaster Response

UMC disaster response team


Robert Miller

Robert “Bob” Miller
Disaster Response Coordinator

Dan OMalley

Dan OMalley
Disaster Response Coordinator


Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson
Volunteers in Mission


Michigan is ready to respond

Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, famine; anything that disrupts people’s lives and places life at risk, calls us to be the compassionate hands and feet of Jesus Christ.  The Michigan Disaster Response Team works year round to prepare, plan and equip teams so we can respond when disaster strikes.

Learn what we do and then read updates below on how we are responding to current disasters.

Four ways you can help

1. Pray

We are called to pray, organize prayer groups and chains and bathe those in need in prayers of peace, God’s abundant Grace, wholeness and safety for those affected and those there to help.

2. Give

While our immediate compassionate instinct is to send food, clothing and household items in times of crisis, we recognize that often causes more harm than good.  In the initial crisis phase, there is no more flexible, reliable and effective response than a financial gift to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, where 100% goes directly to aid.  How is that possible? One reason, UMCOR Sunday.

3. Donate

Preparedness. We assemble thousands of flood clean-up buckets and personal hygiene kits during the year, so when disaster strikes, we are able to load them on trucks and get them to the right place in days. Working with other annual conferences, we keep centralized response kits ready to go.

4. Volunteer

Michigan works with national, state and local agencies to bring wholeness to disaster zones. We arrive after first responders have completed their rescue missions. At the invitation of the affected community, our teams move in, often for years following the crisis. To accomplish this we must be trained and prepared. Disaster zones are dangerous and our committee we can prepare you for work ahead.

Midland Relief/Oct 2017

Seven inches of rain fell in mid-Michigan the night of June 22-23, 2017. The Tittabawassee River crested just 2 feet short of the “Hundred-Year Flood of 1986.”

Cleaning buckets arrived in Midland just hours after waters started to recede. By October a $100,000 grant from UMCOR opened an office in downtown Midland. Two case workers, Anne Wortley and Katie Vokal were brought on board and they immediately began to collaborate with the Great Lakes Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group to assist families.

Anne shares, “Case managers are the link between unmet needs and recovery,” Anne says. “Our job is to assess and identify needs and then connect individuals and families to resources. Recovery is a partnership.” Katie adds, “People are very thankful when we call. They are glad someone is thinking about them.” Assistance has included mucking out, replacement of furnaces and hot water heaters, drywalling, laying carpet, and other building repair.

An update on UMCOR in Midland is coming soon.



Puerto Rico Aid

Mano a Mano with Puerto Rico is a mission project of the Michigan Conference in partnership with UMCOR. Mano a Mano (Hand to Hand) is a six-month project in Michigan to support Puerto Ricans who were forced to leave their homeland after Hurricane Maria struck on September 20, 2017.

Two Disaster Case Managers, one based in Detroit and one based in Grand Rapids, are working to assist families and individuals who had to evacuate Puerto Rico.

Please refer Puerto Ricans who resettled in Michigan after Hurricane Maria to either Guillermina Peguero or Ruth Tobar (contact information in Learn More) and they will follow up with the families or individuals.

Photo courtesy UMCOR

Keweenaw Floods/June 2018

Overnight June 17, 2018 the Houghton-Hancock area in the Keweenaw Peninsula received between 8 and 11 inches of rain in less than 12 hours. The hilly terrain exacerbated the drainage process and caused extreme flash flooding. The comment most often heard about the Copper Country was, “I’ve never seen anything like it.” 

Around 600 homes were affected in some way. As of August 1 about half those homes still needed clean-up or structural repair. Efforts are currently underway to assess cases and mobilize volunteer help.

United Methodists are encouraged to give through the Michigan Conference Disaster Response Fund. Make checks payable to the Detroit Conference Treasurer, memo Michigan Disaster Response Fund and mail to Michigan Conference Treasury, 1161 East Clark Road, Ste. 212, DeWitt, MI 48820. Or click here to give online.


Photo courtesy Pastor Scott Lindenberg

Hurricanes/Sept 2017

Successive storms—Harvey, Irma, Maria—hit the southern U.S. and Puerto Rico late in September 2017. Rain was still falling and winds were still howling as Conference leaders in Michigan, both staff and volunteers, gathered to plan the state’s response.

A call went out for dollars to bolster UMCOR’s U.S. Disaster Relief Fund, Advance #901670. The Michigan Area Treasurer’s Office reported receipts of $344,711 in just a few short weeks.

Michigan Area United Methodist Camping offered their facilities as drop-off sites. Eight local churches opened their doors to receive supplies for hygiene kits and cleaning buckets.

Donations poured in. The best “guesstimate” on total cleaning buckets is 1,750. Supplies were picked up at drop-off sites and delivered to Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Illinois with the help of Corrigan Moving.

Read more about Michigan's response to these storms.

Photo courtesy Kalamazoo 1st UMC