From Sandy to West Virginia to Louisiana – the Church Responds

From Sandy to West Virginia to Louisiana – the Church Responds


Following the devastating storm and flood waters of Superstorm Sandy, volunteers from around the annual conference – and around the country – came to assist survivors in their recovery. In typical United Methodist fashion, we had volunteer teams from as far away as Georgia, Texas, and California come to our aid. While the Sandy recovery still goes on for many, we are now receiving requests from West Virginia and Louisiana for early response (ERT) and recovery teams.  (For more information on the recovery efforts in West Virginia and Louisiana, please see their respective web sites).

Below are updates and opportunities for serving as part of the New York Annual Conference Disaster Recovery ministry.

West Virginia: We have received a request from the West Virginia Annual Conference for recovery teams. These are the teams that do the repair and rebuild work. We are looking to send the first team to West Virginia in mid-October. If you are interested and available to be part of an October team, or if you would like to lead a team at another date, please contact Tom Vencuss at for more information.

Louisiana: The Louisiana Annual Conference has put out a request for ERT teams.  To serve on an early response team a person must have a current ERT badge. If you are interested in leading, or serving on a team to Louisiana please contact Vencuss at the address listed above. During the first few weeks or months after a disaster, only specially trained early response teams (ERT) can enter the affected areas, due to health concerns and infrastructure limitations.

Cleaning buckets: UMCOR is requesting cleaning buckets that will be sent to Louisiana as part of the relief effort. Thousands have already been delivered to the affected areas.

During September and October, the NYAC will be collecting cleaning buckets that will be sent to Mission Central in Pennsylvania for distribution. A number of churches throughout the annual conference have been designated as collection sites. At this point we have identified the following churches in the six districts:

  •    Metropolitan: Calvary, Bronx; New Rochelle

  •    Long Island East: Centerport, Seaford, Hicksville, Bayport

  •    Catskill Hudson: New Paltz

  •    New York/Connecticut: Hyde Park  

  •    Connecticut: Seymour; Clinton; Jesse Lee, Ridgefield

  •    Long Island West: Brooklyn Sandy recovery office at Bethany House

If your church would like to serve as a collection site, please contact Tom Vencuss at

Check back here in the next few weeks for a complete list of collection sites and contacts, as well as drop-off and pick-up dates. Instructions for assembling cleaning buckets can be found on the UMCOR web site.


NYAC Disaster Response Training Events

Basic ERT Training: Two training sessions are scheduled for September 24 in New Paltz, and October 15 in Mount Kisco (Ross Porter, instructor). These  trainings run from 9am to 4pm. Contact Tom Vencuss for additional information. To register:

ERT Recertification: Two classes have already been held in New Rochelle and Hyde Park with a combined total of more than 30 persons in attendance. To register for any of these classes: Upcoming recertification classes are scheduled for:

  • September 10: 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Bellmore (NY) UMC.  For more information contact: Tom Vencuss

  • September 18: 2-5 p.m., Clinton (CT) UMC.  For more information contact: Craig Fitzsimmons at

  • September 22: 6-9 p.m., New Paltz (NY). For more information contact: Tom Vencuss

To take part in an ERT recertification class you must have already completed the basic training course.

Disaster Emotional and Spiritual Care (DESC) training

DESC basic training: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., September 24 at Simsbury (CT) UMC.  Contact: Wendy Vencuss at  Click for more information

DESC leader training: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., September 10 at Bellmore (NY) UMC. Contact: Wendy Vencuss. Persons attending the DESC leader training must have first attended the basic training course.

It is our intention to provide training events in all areas of the Annual Conference. We will be working with District Disaster Response Committees to determine locations and dates for trainings.

Please check out the Missions/Disaster Response area on the NYAC web site for additional information and updates.