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N.J. now open to early response teams

United Methodists in New Jersey are receiving their first out-of-state “early response teams” to assist in the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

Greg Forrester, Northeast Jurisdiction coordinator, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, said a team from the denomination’s Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference was working Nov. 8-11 at Bellmar United Methodist Church, located along a badly damaged part of the Jersey Shore.

A Susquehanna Conference team from central Pennsylvania was expected to arrive the afternoon of Nov. 14 at Middletown (N.J.) United Methodist Church and work from that location through the weekend, he added.

These teams “provide a caring presence in the aftermath of a disaster, under very specific guidelines that enable a team to be productive and caring while causing no further harm or being a burden to the affected community,” Forrester wrote in an email alert. The teams are trained by the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

The self-sufficient teams of six to eight volunteers provide their own food and only require access to electricity and a place to cook. The Greater New Jersey Annual Conference has identified eight host churches for early response teams, Forrester said.

Locally, Middletown United Methodist Church was offering two unofficial trainings Nov. 13. The morning session provided an understanding of the role of UMCOR early response teams and the afternoon session offered instruction on how to assess property so that a work team can be deployed. Additional training sessions are planned by the Greater New Jersey Conference in the near future.

Early Response Teams interested in coming to New Jersey should send an email to DisasterResponse@gnjumc.org that lists name and contact information, church, annual conference, team size and dates available to respond.

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