Recovery Teams Forming for Puerto Rico

Recovery Teams Forming for Puerto Rico


NYAC Recovery Teams forming for Puerto Rico response
Two NYAC volunteer rebuild teams will be forming for deployment to Puerto Rico:
   April 23 to 30
  June 18 to 25

For additional photos from the bishop's tour of Puerto Rico, click here.
Read Bishop Bickerton's report, "In Search of a Can of Paint."
Read Thomas Kemper's report, "Puerto Rican Methodists Find Strength in God Despite Massive Hurricane."


We have all seen the photos, read the statistics, and heard the concerns and cries of the people. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has announced that volunteer teams are now being accepted for deployment to support the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico (MCPR) in their ongoing recovery efforts.

Contact Tom Vencuss at to volunteer to help in Puerto Rico.

UMCOR has been working with Bishop Hector Ortiz and the MCPR leadership team to develop and fund a structure and program which will effectively address outstanding recovery needs in both the short and long-term. This will include volunteer coordination and hosting, construction, case management and material support.

On January 9, the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico (MCPR), in partnership with UMCOR and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM), will begin receiving applications for both early response (ERT) and rebuild/construction teams.

All team requests are being handled through the disaster response coordinators in each conference. Please read the following basic information from UMCOR, and if you are interested in leading a team or have additional questions please contact me via email at As part of an UMCOR Advance Team in November, I have been working with the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico in the development of their volunteer response effort.

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton recently visited Puerto Rico, meeting with Bishop Ortiz and the MCPR leadership team, touring the island, and engaging with residents in some of the most-affected areas. Bishop Bickerton is the president of the UMCOR board of directors and was accompanied by Thomas Kemper, general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries.

From UMCOR: Team Development and Deployment


  • The first teams to be deployed will be called specialized early response teams. These teams will address circumstances unique to this location and situation, and beyond the general scope of work for our more traditional ERTs.
  • The work may include replacing or reinforcing trusses prior to tarping a home, the replacement or reinforcement of existing tarps, the installation of temporary hinged plywood doors and windows, and other concerns which will allow residents to “shelter in place” safely.
  • An expanded ERT manual, including one in Spanish, has been developed for this very purpose.
  • Early teams may be asked to do significant debris removal. The work of the specialized early response teams will also allow the MCPR to establish their base camps, develop their volunteer program, and begin to assemble the larger plan.

Context / Service Criteria

  • These initial teams may also require certain skills and physical capabilities. Early sites may, or may not, have clean running water or electricity – or access to generators. Working conditions may be difficult.
  • It is strongly recommended that only those volunteers free of health issues consider traveling to Puerto Rico. Due to the environmental and technological challenges facing the island, including access to, and availability of, definitive medical care, volunteers should not be dealing with any mobility, respiratory or general health issues. They should also not rely on health assists powered by electricity or use medication requiring refrigeration.


  • After the initial response, the recovery will be opened to more traditional ERTs and, beginning March 1, to volunteer (UMVIM) reconstruction teams. UMCOR has established a centralized volunteer coordination mechanism in cooperation with UMVIM for this purpose.