Disaster Response: Hurricane Harvey


An Early Response Team from Missouri traveled to Texas shortly after Hurricane Harvey to assist with tree removal in wind-damaged areas. They were based out of First UMC in Victoria, Texas.

The first to leave traveled on September 2, and the rest joined in the following two days. The Missouri Conference skid loader was taken down, as was a skid loader from the La Croix UMC (Cape Girardeau) disaster response team. There were also 200 flood buckets delivered to the area.

Keith “Howdy” Matheny has been driving UPS deliveries in Columbia for 35 years, and had come to know people in the Missouri Conference through his deliveries and pick-up from the center for Mission, Service and Justice. Although he belongs to a different denomination, he joined Missouri Conference staff person Scott Burdin on the trip to Texas, and said he felt blessed to be part of the team. “We removed trees from their houses, cars, from fences, sheds, roads, lanes, front yards, back yards, pools, stables, barns, pump houses, off of campers, trailers and driveways. We used, shared, and broke our own equipment,” he said. “We helped others get back into their homes. People were grateful, and we reminded them that Jesus had met our every need. The stories will be forever etched in our minds, but none of this could of taken place, had it not been orchestrated by God, the prayers and support of our family and friends and our faith in Christ that bonded us together.”

Most of the team members returned September 9. The Louisiana Conference is now scheduling trained and badged ERT’s for Hurricane Harvey response. Please direct your ERT’s to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UMCVolunteerRegistration to register.

A Better Harvey, Erma Pair

It’s been a hard month to be Harvey, with Hurricane Harvey bringing the beach to formerly dry, inland areas near the Texas Gulf Coast. So Rev. Harvey Beach felt compelled to clear his good name. Then his sister texted him the news – not only had Hurricane Harvey sullied the name Harvey across Texas, but Hurricane Irma was heading for Florida. Harvey’s wife name is Erma. So Harvey came to church on September 3 with a flood bucket and a plan.

“I told them I was going to take a truckload of flood buckets to the Conference Office next week. The only problem was I only had one bucket,” he said. “I said, ‘It’s up to you to fill up the truck.’” 

Beach said his churches (Leeton UMC and Ionia UMC in the Heartland District) already knew how ornery he could be, and after about four decades of marriage, he knew how ornery Erma can be. Hurricane Irma was still out to sea at the time, but Florida had better be prepared, he told his congregations.

The churches came through, and the Beaches delivered the flood buckets to the Conference Office the day after filling up their truck with them on September 10, along with a check to help pay for shipping to areas wherever they are needed.