by Kathy Bryson
Recovery efforts from the 2021 Whatcom County floods will take a big step forward thanks to a $100,000 recovery grant the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church received from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
This news comes almost one year to the day after weather patterns created several “atmospheric river” events that resulted in major flooding, landslides, mudslides and damaging straight-line winds in the northwest corner of Washington.
The UMCOR grant will focus in on the hardest hit areas of Whatcom County by providing funding for a reconstruction manager and part-time volunteer coordinator, according to Kathy Bryson, co-disaster response coordinator for the PNW Conference.
“This grant is especially significant as it will leverage another $100,000 in resources through the Whatcom Long Term Recovery Group for survivor needs and home repairs,” Bryson said.
In addition to the recovery grant, the PNW Conference has committed an additional $10,000 of donated funds to support survivor needs through the Whatcom Long Term Recovery Group’s “Unmet Need Roundtable” process.
Early on partnering discussions between World Renew and the PNW Conference, disaster response laid the groundwork for the grant proposal.
“World Renew is known for their estimator teams, which is what was needed to kick-start scoping the repair work”, Bryson said. “Together with our United Methodist Volunteer In Mission rebuild teams, our ability to serve survivors can only be stronger.”
Bryson said the reconstruction manager will work with volunteer groups which come in to do the home repair. The volunteer coordinator will work in tandem with the reconstruction manager recruiting teams and coordinating their logistics.
Early in the recovery, UMCOR awarded a $10,000 to the PNW Conference to support immediate relief efforts that included relief supplies, Early Response Team (ERT) engagement and relief-to-recovery mentoring support.
That initial funding supported a PNW ERT damage assessment crew to do assessments for about 60 homes on behalf of the Whatcom County Emergency Operation Center. Another ERT returned in early July 2022 to remove wet under-home insulation and mold mitigation spray for 13 low-income families.
UMCOR also provided disaster case management training in support of the Whatcom County Long Term Recovery Group. More than 575 cases have been opened through the efforts of nine disaster case managers.
“UMCOR has been a significant partner since the beginning of this flooding in supporting the County’s recovery efforts,” said Bryson.