Current Disaster Response

Update 10/5

Texas and Florida 

Texas and Florida are requesting ERTeams. The New York Conference has deployed its first Early Response Team to Rockport, Texas. A second team is being developed for December 2 to 9. We are looking for team leaders for both Texas and Florida. For information or to apply please contact Tom Vencuss ( 


Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands

At this point much of this area is still in an emergency phase and inappropriate for volunteer teams and response. Bishop Bickerton and Tom Vencuss met recently with members of the Caribbean Mission Partnership and the NYAC Hispanic Council to discuss the current situation, hear concerns, provide updates, and begin a conversation around short and long-term recovery plans. 

In addition, there may be as many as 6,600 families seeking temporary relocation to the US mainland from Puerto Rico and other areas in the Caribbean. Tom Vencuss is working with NYDIS (New York Disaster Interfaith Services) and other city agencies to develop a plan to receive and relocate evacuees. Tom serves as the president of the NYDIS Board. A first "service center" is expected to be opened next week in Harlem. It is expected that faith-based organizations and local churches will be asked to participate in, and assist, this process.


What Can We Do? 

  • Continue to be in prayer for all persons throughout the world who have been affected by hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and torrential rains.
  • Read and share the most recent pastoral letter from Bishop Bickerton (September 20) 


  • UMCOR has designated two Advance numbers for domestic financial donations: US Disaster Response Advance #901670 and the Material Resources Advance #901440. Donations for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands should be made through the US Disaster Response Advance.   
  • UMCOR has one designated Advance number for international relief and recovery efforts: IDR#982450. 
  • Bishop Bickerton has called for a Conference-wide offering on October 15 to specifically assist Puerto Rico and areas of the Caribbean affected by Irma and Maria. Checks may be made out to the NYAC, with "Hurricane Maria Response" in the memo line. Please send checks to the attention of Fran Collins.   
  • Contributions may also be made in support of our volunteer teams to assist in covering on the ground travel and material purchases. Checks may be sent to the NY Conference, 20 Soundview Avenue, White Plains, NY 10606 with “New York Disaster Response Fund" on the memo line or donate online by going to and choose "Disaster Response Fund" in the Direct Your Gift drop-down list.


  • Begin assembling clean-up and health kits. A list of collection sites can be viewed by clicking here. More than 340 buckets have been sent to Mission Central from the NYAC. There will be a general pick up and delivery to the Conference Center from October 12 to 16 with a delivery to Mission Central on October 17.  
  • Mission Central is now accepting “other” donations for hurricane relief. They will not accept used clothing or food items. They will accept NEW Clothing (especially socks and underwear), paper products, and of course, cleaning supplies. If you have received these approved “other” hurricane relief supplies, please bring them along with the cleaning and hygiene kits to the collection sites. 


  •  NYAC Early Response Teams are forming. A team is currently scheduled for October 4 to 11. Another team is scheduled for December 2 to 9.       
  • Consider attending a Basic Early Response Team training or an ERT-Recertification class. Visit this page for a full schedule of Basic and Recert classes
  • Consider serving on an ERT Team. All ERT volunteers must have a current badge and background check. 
  • Consider leading an Early Response Team. All team leaders must have been on a prior ERT and attend an UMCOR Team Leader Training event, or have prior team leader experience. 
  • Continue to follow updates on the NYAC website.     


Update 9/5

Even as Hurricane Harvey was forming, United Methodists, through UMCOR and our connectional system, were preparing for a response: queueing up clean up buckets and health kits, alerting Early Response Team volunteers, and making emergency grants available. In response, in some areas local churches are serving as emergency shelters, ERTs are on the ground, and UMCOR is working with other relief/recovery agencies. For the latest UMCOR response update please click here.

Following UMCOR protocols:

  • Volunteers and volunteer teams should not self-deploy.
  • We serve only upon an invitation from the host Conference. At this point only one Conference has requested volunteer teams and they request that these be experienced Early Response Teams. 
  • Only those items requested are to be sent to Mission Central for transport to the affected areas. 

As part of our response the New York Conference is:

  • Putting out a call for churches to assemble UMCOR-designated clean up kits and health kits. A schedule of collection dates and sites will be posted with a first pick-up in early October. 
  • In the process of scheduling both Basic and Recertification ERT classes - a schedule of times and locations will be available within several days.
  • Identifying experienced team leaders to lead Early Response Teams. It is also our intention to have a trained DESC (Disaster Emotional and Spiritual Care) person on each team. There is a team currently scheduled for early October (full) but it is our hope to send one team a month. A schedule of teams will be posted.

It is important to remember that this will be a long recovery. Early Response Teams may be needed for several months and then the long process of recovery begins. Updated information will be posted on this website as it is received. In the meantime, keep the people of Texas and Louisiana in your prayers.


Update 8/30

An UMCOR - coordinated conference call between Disaster Response Coordinators from Texas and Louisiana and Coordinators from other Conferences was held on Tuesday evening. Each had an opportunity to report on their current situation, the status of their relief/recovery efforts, and provide other information. In summary:

  • All reported that this event was unlike any other experienced before - more than 50 inches of rain. Rain is still falling in some areas and others are still recovering from prior storms.  

  • The Rio-Texas Conference is ready to accept Early Response Teams. Only currently badged and experienced teams are requested. Other Conferences are several weeks away from receiving outside volunteer teams.

  • The most helpful support at this point is financial. Funds may be sent through the UMCOR ( US Disaster Response Advance #901670 or through the Material Resources Advance #901440.

  • Local churches are asked to begin assembling Cleaning Buckets and Health Kits which can be sent to affected areas.

  • No persons or teams are to self-deploy. 

New York Conference Response

  • We will continue to monitor the situation and be in dialogue with UMCOR and local response coordinators.

  • We will identify collection site locations and pick up dates for Cleaning Buckets and Health Kits.

  • We will begin to coordinate ERT teams for deployment. Terry and Mike Temple (Hyde Park UMC) have offered to lead the first NYAC team - October 4 to 11. For information contact Terry ( For those interested in serving on this team but needing an ERT Recert, Terry will conduct a class as part of the team orientation. 

  • A schedule of dates and locations for ERT Recert and Basic courses will be established.

  • Do not self-deploy. All churches or persons interested in leading a team should register with Tom Vencuss ( and work through NYAC-VIM channels.   

  • Let us remember that this will be a long recovery - volunteers and assistance will be needed for many years to come.  


Update 8/29

The New York Conference Disaster Response Office has been in contact with UMCOR as we continue to monitor the effects of Hurricane Harvey and make plans for an appropriate response. At this point we are in a position of "waiting" - but that does not mean one of inactivity. UMCOR is working with local Disaster Response Coordinators to identify and prepare Early Response Teams for future deployment, identifying volunteer housing, and preparing a database of supplies and equipment which can be moved into affected areas when appropriate.

Disaster response coordinators are connecting to UMCOR’s relief supply system and budgetary assistance as they plan for shelter support along the evacuation routes. 

Bishop Bickerton has been in contact with Bishops from the Texas Conferences. In addition, Tom Vencuss, NYAC Coordinator of Missions Ministries, will be part of an UMCOR conference call with Disaster Response Coordinators from Texas tomorrow evening and will be able to provide updates.Tom will then be in dialogue with Bishop Bickerton and the Cabinet to determine and coordinate an NYAC response. 

At this point there has not been a request for volunteers, and persons or teams are not to self deploy. UMCOR has requested that local churches begin to assemble Clean-up Buckets and Health Kits. We will send out a schedule of locations and pick up dates later in the fall. 

As UMCOR, and the Conferences and local communities continue to respond to the effects of Harvey, please pray for those whose lives may be impacted by this catastrophic event. 

Those who wish to support the work of UMCOR as it responds to this and other disasters in the US are encouraged to give to UMCOR’s US Disaster Response Advance #901670.


Superstorm Sandy Recovery ... the work continues 

The NYAC Disaster Response Ministry has received additional funding from UMCOR to continue its Sandy recovery work through September 2017. We will continue to provide assistance to Sandy-survivors through our collaboration with CT Rises (the Connecticut Long-term Recovery Group), the St. Bernard Project (formerly, Friends of Rockaway) in New York, and NYDIS (NY Disaster Interfaith Services). At this point, the majority of requests coming through Unmet Needs Tables are for temporary relocation rental assistance, mortgage assistance, and licensed contractor services. All volunteer team requests are being managed through the St. Bernard Project rebuild program.  

For most, it will still be many months before they will be able to return to their homes.


"Done in a Day" Sandy-response opportunities 

Working in collaboration with the St Bernard Project, we have identified a home in Brooklyn (Coney Island) that is in need of Sandy-related repairs. Individual volunteers and church teams are invited, and encouraged, to participate in this project. Please see the dates below and contact Tom Vencuss ( for more information. 

Monday, August 28 - Thursday, August 31 and Saturday, September 2 

Monday, September 4 - Wednesday, September 20 

Friday, September 22 - Tuesday, October 17

Monday, October 23- Wednesday, October 25 

Friday, October 27 - Friday, November 4