Disaster Recovery Is Under Way In Jack County

Disaster meeting

(From left) Rev. Jeremy Basset (NTC Disaster Response Coordinator), Rev. Jacob Fields (Northwest District Disaster Response Coordinator), Michael Smith (Jacksboro City Manager), Frank Hefner (Jack County Emergency Management), Judge Brian Umphress and Rev. Dr. Chad Johnson (First UMC Jacksboro) sat down to discuss long-term recovery plans for the city.

Said FUMC Rev. Dr. Chad Johnson: “The support and love from everyone has just been breathtaking. I still have people contacting me asking ‘What do you need?' "

On Monday, March 21 a powerful EF-3 tornado ripped through Jack County in North Texas, damaging property in Jacksboro and Bowie. Soon afterward, the North Texas Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Jeremy Basset and Northwest District Coordinator Rev. Jacob Fields met with Jack County representatives to discuss recovery efforts. The county has reported damage to hundreds of residential properties, many of which are uninsured or under-insured. This is precisely the gap that UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) and the NTC Disaster Response team seek to fill.

“We United Methodists are usually the first ones in and we’re always the last ones out – until the money runs out or the job is done, and usually it’s when the job is done,” Rev. Basset said.

A conversation about the long-term recovery needs in the area hosted by Rev. Dr. Chad Johnson, senior pastor of First UMC Jacksboro, included County Judge Brian Keith Umphress, City Manager Michael Smith and Frank Hefner, Jack County emergency management coordinator. 

In addition to assistance with coordination and logistics from the NTC disaster response team, United Methodists from across the conference are rolling up their sleeves and firing up their chainsaws. A team from Christ UMC in Plano spent a Saturday in April clearing debris and assisting neighbors in Jacksboro.

Torn up houses

Rev. Dr. Johnson has been moved by the outpouring from his church members as they support their neighbors and from United Methodists across the connection.

“The support and love from everyone has just been breathtaking,” he said. “The United Methodists in this community are receiving so much love — from fellow Methodists, from all over. I still have people contacting me asking ‘What do you need? What about long term?’ Just that constant outpouring says so much about what it means to be in the Body of Christ and says so much about what it means to be United Methodist.”

The road to recovery will be long, and financial and volunteer support is crucial as Jacksboro recovers from this devastating tornado. If you or your church would like to get involved, email Harva Kuykendall, NTCUMC Disaster Recovery Volunteer Coordinator.

As Rev. Fields reinforced with Jack County officials that day in April, “We’re here until people are whole.” 

Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2022