By Linda Bloom*
New York United Methodists are preparing to dispatch volunteers on Staten Island and Long Island to assist survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
The Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie, disaster relief coordinator for the denomination’s New York Annual (regional) Conference, told United Methodist News Service Nov. 6 that Bethel United Methodist Church would be used as a staging area for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts on Staten Island. “We’ve already provided them with a trailer filled with equipment and materials,” he said.
Ten United Methodist congregations on Staten Island and their buildings all weathered the storm. “That’s a good thing. It takes focus off the church and into the community,” Ewoodzie said.
At Bethel, in the southwest part of the island near New Jersey, “the church has opened up its facilities, so we have a big space where volunteers can come in and get a quick orientation,” he noted.
The congregations of St. Paul and Woodrow United Methodist churches will work together with Bethel to receive and deploy volunteers into the community and provide other relief services. The initial focus will be on mucking out, cleaning and sanitizing, Ewoodzie said.
Volunteers already are working on cleanup in Massapequa, a Long Island community hard-hit by the hurricane. Community United Methodist Church there will be a center for recovery work. Freeport, Oceanside and Sheepshead Bay are other Long Island sites where teams may be deployed, Ewoodzie said.
The New York Annual Conference has put an application form tailored for Hurricane Sandy volunteers on its website.Those younger than 18 are not eligible for a volunteer assignment in this initial emergency phase.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York. Follow her at http://twitter.com/umcscribe.