Disaster response teams deployed during April flooding
While levees along the Illinois held in Beardstown, Havana and Meredosia, residents of London Mills and Spring Bay were evacuated during flooding conditions in April.
Rev. Judy Doyle, who serves as Illinois River District Disaster Response Team leader, contacted clergy and city officials in the affected areas to see what assistance could be given.
Two early response teams were mobilized by IGRC ERT Trainer Steve Schoeffel to assist with cleanup efforts in London Mills. The Midwest Mission Distribution Center provided 50 flood buckets which were requested by village officials.
Another 95 flood buckets were provided to Spring Bay.
The Chillicothe fire chief, who also serves as the community’s Emergency Services director requested 200 buckets for resident s of Mossville, Rome and Chillicothe.
“Henderson Funeral Home in Pekin graciously offered their garage for storage and distribution of the flood buckets,” Doyle said. “The Illinois River District Emergency Response Team appreciated their assistance.”
Long-term recovery efforts continue in London Mills where the Spoon River overwhelmed the nearby levee, forcing the evacuation of more than 400 residents. On April 20, the Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Emergency Management Agency provided pumps that had the village looking soggy but basically intact two days later.
The London Mills UMC served as a community center during this time, where information about recovery efforts, damage assessments, as well as a distribution point for bottled water and sandwiches.
Once water levels receded, sandbags were taken to Liverpool, where the Illinois River was threatening to overflow. Residents in that village had voluntarily evacuated.
The record-breaking flooding of the Illinois left local landmark Bemer’s Village Inn and all of Lake Street in Spring Bay under several feet of water.
Rev. Joe Richard, pastor of RiversEdge UMC, said the flooding allowed “the church to be the church.” The congregation, which is the only church in the community, served in tandem with the fire department as the two hubs of disaster assistance.
“We served as a Red Cross emergency shelter for four nights,” Richard said. “What was great was seeing our people being able to help our people; they didn’t have to travel to be involved.”
The church handled the distribution of flood buckets. In all, about 45 homes were damaged April 22 when the river approached crest levels. It included the homes of three members/constituents. The church is already involved in assisting with cleanup and recovery.
Carbon Cliff/Port Byron
On April 24, a request was from the Carbon Cliff/Port Byron area for some assistance. Rev. Mike Mayfield coordinated response efforts with the Midwest Mission Distribution Center and provided flood buckets to assist with cleanup.
ERT members with current UMCOR badges are trained to be able to respond immediately within their own district. Anywhere outside their own district, they are required to wait for an invitation to come down from the conference. That means, while multiple teams across the conference might be available to respond, they will not move unless a call is made from the affected district to the conference inviting/requesting ERTs. This is mandated by ERT training to avoid a mass of volunteers overwhelming local disaster and volunteer coordinators and causing more chaos than already exists.
So, if your area is affected and in need of ERTs from across the conference, pastors need to alert their District Superintendent and/or their designated District Disaster Response Coordinator (if they know who that is) and/or the conference office in order for ERTs to be called up.
Currently, there are more than 500 trained and badged volunteers throughout the Illinois Great Rivers Conference available for response.