Faithful Volunteers Help Clear Storm Damage In Wood, Franklin Counties

Youth and adults from FUMC Winnsboro and Mt. Vernon UMC tend to damage in the East District

There’s an old saying about trees falling in the forest. … But the trees that fell, broke or uprooted during the storms of June 15, 2023, in Wood and Franklin counties did not go unheard. Pastor Debbie Lyons and the team from First United Methodist Church Winnsboro went right to work, ensuring that their neighbors were unharmed.

“Pastor Debbie sent out a church-wide text asking for people that needed help with clean up,” explained Heather Warren, communications and children’s director at FUMC Winnsboro. “We kept an ongoing list of those needing help, along with a list of those willing to volunteer. We drove out to houses to assess what was accessible and what our group could safely help accomplish.”

Even though the church and the parsonage were without electricity the week following this storm, Lyons stayed close by, chatting with and checking on neighbors as they sat in the shade during these hot days. 

And while the congregation was unable to worship in their space on Sunday, June 18, they continued putting their love for Christ to work in other ways. Throughout the week, youth and adults from Winnsboro UMC and Mt. Vernon UMC tended piles of debris across the community.

“People were excited to see youth and adults – up to 84 years old! –  out braving the heat and working together to help where possible,” Warren said. “We were able to clean up six yards, as well as the Episcopal Church yard and parking lot.”

When East District Superintendent Rev. Cassie Wade asked the young people what the hardest thing they did was, they were quick to say, “wake up early!”

“This partnership really showed the positive impact that a few people working together can have on the community,” Warren said. “The multi-generational group from youth, to parents, to grandparents and even a great-grandparent, was so powerful to watch. Such a good reminder that we can be the church and show our love of Jesus and model His love to others wherever we are; not just in worship on Sunday mornings.”

Needed: Chainsaw teams in Winnsboro and ERTs in Matador and Perryton

In Winnsboro, there is significant tree damage that needs trained and equipped chainsaw teams to assist in cutting down trees and clearing residents’ yards. Teams are welcome to come just for a day of work at a time, or to stay over and do multiple days. Accommodation will be arranged by the First UMC of Winnsboro. This work is under the oversight of one of our partner agencies, the Baptism Men of Texas. However, if interested in responding, please first email Rev. Jeremy Basset, our conference DR Coordinator, or call 405-590-5738. He will connect you with the appropriate people.

Two separate tornado events have had a major impact in the towns of Perryton and Matador in the NW Texas Annual Conference. Both towns are gearing up for a long-term recovery effort that begins with the need for tree and debris removal, roof tarping and mucking out of damaged homes and properties.

Both sites can handle volunteer teams that can work multiple days. In other words, accommodation is available, but might be in neighboring towns as the local accommodation possibilities are needed for displaced residents.

If your church can send a team, in the first instance please contact Rev. Jeremy Basset (see details above).

Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2023