According to Wikipedia, the North American winter storm that crossed most of the United States from Feb. 13-17 was a major winter and ice storm with widespread impacts across the United States, Northern Mexico, and parts of Canada. The storm resulted in more than 170 million Americans being placed under various winter weather alerts across the country and caused blackouts for over 9.7 million people in the U.S. and Mexico, most notably the 2021 Texas power crisis. The blackouts were the largest in the U.S. since the Northeast blackout of 2003. By Feb. 19, the death toll had risen to at least 70, including 58 people in the United States and 12 people in Mexico.

The United Methodist Commitee on Relief (UMCOR) responds to natural or civil disasters of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community’s ability to recover on its own. Through UMCOR, United Methodists extend loving care to people within the United States. When disaster strikes, it is local churches that provide the first response to their communities. This basic understanding — that disaster response is local — forms the foundation for UMCOR’s US disaster training and response.

One such church is Friendswood UMC in Friendswood, Texas. The cold weather in the region caused pipes in their fire sprinkler system to burst, flooding large portions of the building. Members of the congregation responded to a call for help and worked in limited light since the church lost power. Some of the rooms were dark. The Rev. Jim Bass, Friendswood’s pastor, explained that a number of the church members still do not have electricity themselves. Still, they showed up to help the congregation.

If you would like to help churches like Friendswood UMC, you can make a donation to UMCOR’s Disaster Response and Recovery Fund.

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