WV Conference Awarded UMCOR Grant for Flood Recovery; Disaster Response Team

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball shared news that the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has awarded a grant of $500,000 to the West Virginia Annual Conference for relief and recovery activity following the June storm and resulting flood.
The grant was part of $2 million approved by the UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) Board of Directors at its recent fall meeting for flooding in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and West Virginia.
"This was a disaster of historic proportion - a 1,000 year flood," observed Bishop Steiner Ball about the June 23 event. "We are most grateful to UMCOR for recognizing this substantial need and partnering with our Conference to respond to vulnerable people as together we work toward recovery for families and communities."
According to assistant to the Bishop Rev. JF Lacaria, the grant provides direct help for people impacted by the flood. "The grant provides for direct case management, on-site construction coordination, and other elements of help for materials and supplies in rebuilding," Lacaria said. He continued, "administrative costs are being born by conference disaster response funds." Lacaria further thanked Rev. Dan Lowther, disaster response coordinator, for his work in helping to write the grant to UMCOR.
"We've hit the ground running," said Rev. Jack Lipphardt, director for the West Virginia United Methodist Annual Conference's response to this disaster. "Two case managers already are working closely with families in several of the 14 counties most severely hit by the storm and flood. Our construction managers have been supervising projects throughout the region."
Lacaria and Lipphardt are working closely with Long Term Recovery Groups organized in each county impacted by the flood as well as with WV VOAD partners (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster). "We're squeezing every nickel and stretching every dollar with these partnerships in order best to help people and to respect donors' gifts," Lipphardt said.  
Lacaria confirmed that the grant is for a two-year period with a goal of helping a minimum of 120 families. Priorities are for people who are elderly, disabled, poor, or children with single parents.  
According to Lipphardt, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and UMCOR both acknowledge that recovery is more likely to take four to five years. "FEMA has told us that this flood is 'harder and more severe' than most disasters given the geographical breadth of the flooding and the poverty in the affected region," Lipphardt said.
Bishop Steiner Ball asks individuals, groups, and congregations to continue the important work of sending funds for the relief and recovery effort. "We certainly encourage gifts in response to flooding in Baton Rouge and to damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, but we need to keep steady with support for the West Virginia flood," she adds, "news cycles have their way of knocking earlier events out of consciousness, so we need to keep reminding ourselves of the hard work that numerous volunteers are doing that need substantial funding support in helping our neighbors recover."
For more information about the West Virginia Annual Conference’s response to the June, 2016 flooding visit our website: http://wvumc.org/About/Ministries/Disaster-Response. You will find a link to electronic giving as well as contact information for the WVUMC disaster response team.
For the complete story about the UMCOR grant follow this link: http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/umcor-grants-target-u.s.-flooding

Donations for the ongoing long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts may be made through West Virginia Annual Conference advance #935. Checks may be sent to the Conference Treasurer's office: PO Box 2469, Charleston, WV 25329.

ONLINE giving for WV Flood Relief. Please select "United Methodist Disaster Response #935" and complete the form. 

Thank you in advance for your generosity as we look forward to a New Vision with Hope for West Virginia!

Get to Know the Conference Disaster Response Team - A New Vision with Hope!

Front L to R: Grace Tapiwa Msisha, Miranda Nabers, Jack Lipphardt.
Back L to R: JF Lacaria, Chad Faris, Buck Edwards.

Enjoy these bios written by each member!

Rev. Jack Lipphardt:

Found guilty of attempted retirement, my beloved prosecutor and marriage partner asked the bishop to sentence me to something that would occupy me outside the house, home confinement not being an acceptable option. Being an obedient elder in the connection, when Bishop Sandra pronounced this sentence, I agreed and did not make an appeal. 
UMCOR recognized the magnitude of this disaster and clearly said our conference response to the flood required full time attention, an unfair and unreasonable expectation of our conference disaster coordinators who are serving parishes and managing the New Vision Depot in addition to being prepared for whatever next disaster occurs. UMCOR's view is confirmed by FEMA officials who say this June 23 flood is "harder and more severe" than other disasters that receive national attention because of the geographical breadth of the flood combined with already-distressed communities and regional levels of poverty.  
Prior to my crime of attempted breaking and entering the superannuate relationship with the conference, I served as senior pastor of Johnson Memorial UMC, Huntington. Before that, I served The House of the Carpenter, Inc., a conference mission project in Wheeling where we had to contend with occasional Ohio River floods and flash floods along Wheeling Creek, responding with mission work teams. I supervised eight Americorps/National Civilian Community Corps teams who worked with The House of the Carpenter, Inc., and before that, led the first three UM conference mission work teams to Haiti, Belize, and Dominica which led to the development of the WV Volunteer in Mission program.
UMCOR has provided support for two case managers and two on-site construction coordinators to serve the region, and in the first six weeks with this job, with assistance of JF Lacaria who is assistant to the bishop, we have interviewed, hired, and trained the four people who now are at work fulfilling these responsibilities throughout the 14 county flood-affected region.
Our goal is to be the presence of The United Methodist Church in WV to partner with flood survivors in finding "the new normal" for their lives and addressing needs to help them accomplish this.
Why the bishop thought of my name when she was thinking 'disaster,' I'm not sure. More seriously, I am humbled, flattered, and honored that she would place confidence in me to take on this role. The breadth of devastation behind the lovely hills and surrounding the normally delightful streams of our beautiful state is unimaginable. We have received numerous generous contributions for flood relief that we will quickly use within the first year of what UMCOR and FEMA project as a 5-year time to approach recovery.  
Several faith-based and secular organizations have been in the region.  They have been very helpful in immediate disaster response. However, The United Methodist Church is committed to long-term recovery for people and their communities. It is an honor beyond my deserving to be asked to be the face of The United Methodist Church, following Jesus in walking with our neighbors as we partner with others to address long-term need.

Jack may be contacted at jwlipphardt@aol.com

Miranda Nabers, Case Manager:

After working with nonprofits and state government for the past 10 years, I found the opportunity that combines my love for helping people and communities of my home state with my faith. The magnitude of destruction and devastation in the flood region cannot be put into words. The heart and determination of the survivors of the June flood is a true testament to the people of West Virginia. I look forward to partnering and guiding the survivors through the recovery, rebuilding and eventual post flood normal. In my spare time, I’m active with my church, Saint Marks United Methodist in Charleston, WV and enjoy a multitude of sports and outdoor activities.

Miranda may contacted at mnabers@wvumc.org

Grace Tapiwa Msisha, Case Manager:

My past work experience involves high school teaching, technical advisor to a project, customer care officer, audit assistant, care-giver, correctional officer, correctional counselor and correctional case manager.  Each of these positions gave me different kinds of job satisfaction. However, the common denominator is that I got the most satisfaction when I made a difference in someone’s life. That is why I chose to study International Development Studies at Ohio University when I decided to enroll in a graduate program.  So when I was looking to change jobs, I asked God for a job that would allow me to make a positive difference in the lives of others. When I saw the advertisement for this present job, the first words out of my mouth were, “What a perfect fit!”
I believe that when people have lived through a natural disaster, there is need for psychological, spiritual, emotional, and physical healing. I hope to be the partner who connects the survivors to available resources, helps them brainstorm possible courses of action and also helps them see the pros and cons of choices available to them. I hope to be a trusted and constant partner as people work on picking up pieces of their scattered lives and move towards their recovery. It is my desire to be the beacon of hope that reminds survivors that they are not alone and that recovery is possible. For survivors who need advocacy, I hope to be their voice and representative. I also hope to be Christ’s hands and face to restore their dignity and faith in God and in their fellow human beings. Lastly, I hope to grow on the job, increase my knowledge base, be a great member of my team and be one of the best Case Managers ever.

Grace may be contacted at gmsisha@wvumc.org
Buck Edwards, Construction Coordinator:

I am Buck Edwards from Buckhannon, WV. I have been working with flood relief as a volunteer in several WV counties. When this job was brought to my attention I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to be able to help more people in a more significant way.  I have a passion for helping those who have suffered so much devastation. I experienced the 1985 flood and know what its like to try to recover and move forward. I am extremely happy and excited to be apart of the Hope Team and what we are going to accomplish.

Buck may be contacted at bedwards@wvumc.org