Jack County: Reflections from the Road to Recovery

Joe and Susan

Two departing disaster response team members share their learnings, sources of inspiration from nearly 18 months of supporting recovery efforts

We recently sat down with two members of our Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) in Jack County as they close out their work as part of our UMCOR-funded disaster recovery efforts. Joe Underwood and Susan Coley both call Jacksboro home and have been working alongside their neighbors since the tornado struck in March 2022. We are grateful for their work!

What have you learned about your community while serving as part of the LTRC team?

Joe: I have learned that within the struggle of a trying time, our community is resilient and strong, quiet, humble, hard-working and resourceful. I am proud to be a part of it.

Susan: Whether rich, poor or middle class, everyone affected by the tornado needed their story heard and told. It was most helpful when families shared their experiences with insurance, volunteer groups and the community. It galvanized individuals to know they were working toward resiliency. We learned that many local contractors stepped up to help their neighbors. In the end, those local folks helped the most and did the best work for their neighbors.

How has this work touched your own life?

Joe: This work has led to my own self-reflection and has lifted my spirits. To see others’ acts of service has brought me joy. It is encouraging and an honor to be a witness.

Susan: I asked to work with the LTRC as a case manager before I knew there was an UMCOR. I know that I am someone who can get things done. I often had to slow down and take time to listen to these families. That was the most important part of my work: to listen. Most people were capable of “fixing” things, but they needed someone to listen. That is something I admire about Sandra Dixon, another case manager. She listened first.

What contribution do you think the UMCOR presence has made to the community?

Joe: We are now more aware of the importance of a long-term presence in a community, following a disaster. Since this was our first disaster, we truly did not know or understand the value of having resources and helping hands, even more than a year after the event occurred.

Susan: With no experience in a disaster, thank goodness, Jack County needed UMCOR to organize the community. It was tough to fundraise in our small community. With the help of others throughout the United Methodist Church community, more than 80 families were able to access resources to help themselves or funds to rebuild. I appreciate the guiding hand of Liz McDevitt to teach and guide us. And of course, Jeremy Basset led all of us to help the community move forward.

What are you proudest of as you look back on the work of the last year or so?

Joe: I am most proud of our effort and dedication. As a team, we worked very hard, with hearts guiding us in every step.

Susan: I am proud to be part of the team that has helped Jacksboro rebuild. Although I am no longer part of the team, people still ask for ideas and help to move themselves forward.

Published: Tuesday, August 8, 2023