WICHITA — Disaster response is underway in Baxter Springs. Great Plains Conference Disaster Response Coordinator Linda Stewart and the disaster response chair, Steve Burnett, are working with the Rev. Wayne Handle of the First United Methodist Church, in Baxter Springs, and multiple agencies to coordinate rescue, relief and recovery efforts.
A tornado touched down in the southeast Kansas town on April 28. The Associated Press reports no one was killed but 25 people were injured and at least 100 homes and businesses were damaged.
Bishop Scott J. Jones is issuing a conference-wide (Nebraska and Kansas) appeal for contributions. Individuals may give through their local United Methodist church, go online to greatplainsumc.org/give or mail a check to Great Plains United Methodists, P.O. Box 4187, Topeka, KS 66604, with “disaster response” written on the memo line. Jones has requested a $10,000 emergency grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and the opportunity to submit for a larger grant once greater needs are known.
Conference members report perhaps 40 or more homes were totally destroyed. Three families in the First UMC congregation had major damage to their homes. Handle helped one member move from their destroyed home on Sunday evening. The morning following the disaster, Handle walked the community to check on people. The only damage to the church itself was the impaling of its four-year-old church roof with boards.
The Great Plains Disaster Response Operations site at First UMC may not have power, but they do have use of the kitchen, a spot for the shower trailer when it arrives, an office and space to store supplies. The team is participating in the Multiple Agency Resource Center (MARC) which opened Wednesday and will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Coordinated by the Red Cross, the MARC is described as “one-stop shopping” for disaster survivors to get help. In the meantime the team is activating some of the first Early Response Teams (ERTs) and recruiting site leaders.