How Can We Best Help in Times of Disaster?

We Naturally Want to Help, But Sometimes This is the Second Disaster

Pastor Lee was on vacation this past week, and we were blessed with Rev. Bob Baer and his wife Cherri in his place. Their message was about ministering in times of disaster.

These two have been involved in disaster response through UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) for years. UMCOR offers humanitarian relief and development and assists churches and communities in ministering to persons in need. UMCOR comes alongside people suffering from disasters – famine, hurricane, war, flood, fire or other events—to serve as a source of help and hope. UMCOR also provides technical support and training for partners to address emerging and ongoing issues related to disaster relief and recovery.

I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside them in disasters, training for disaster relief and organizational planning. They know what they’re talking about.

They pointed out that UMCOR is currently working in Ukraine and Turkey providing relief to those suffering.

One of the things that they shared about is a situation that I can identify with…

The second disaster after the disaster.

When we become aware of a disaster whether it’s around the world or around the corner, we naturally want to help. The problem is…most people don’t know how. Their first thoughts consist of giving. Giving stuff and giving help. This includes things like clothes, shoes, blankets, water, food, furniture, etc. These are all things that probably are or will be needed. The problem is knowing how much of what.

There have been situations where so many people showed up to help so soon after a disaster that there wasn’t even time to know what was needed.

Or so many supplies showing up that there was nowhere to keep it and more than what was needed.

Both things can become a second disaster.

An example of this is after the tornado hit Greenburg, Kansas. There was a church in the next town over that became the place where things that were given were being stored. After a short time, there was so much stuff that they ran out of space in their building. So, they had a semi-trailer brought in and then a second one!

One day, one of the people responsible for this stuff suggested that they should lock the trailers, but after some discussion it was decided that if someone wanted or needed something that they could help themselves.

Then a few days later someone did get in one of the trailers…and left more stuff.

That’s when they decided to lock the trailers.

No matter the intent of the givers…dealing with all this stuff takes time and energy away from the real disaster.

Regardless of the disaster there are needs. The best way to help is to connect with a reliable and vetted organization that has knowledge and experience in disaster response. They can give you the information you need so that you can give and help in the best possible way.

Help those that are suffering get back to their new normal as quickly as possible.

And don’t be part of the second disaster by giving without a plan.

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