UMC congregations and affiliated disaster response groups have been hard at work in western Kentucky and west Tennessee with debris removal and other early response efforts, as well as planning ahead for and putting in place long term recovery initiatives–spearheaded by a collaboration between the Tennessee-Western Kentucky (TWK) and KY Annual Conferences.

According to Robert Craig, the Disaster Response Coordinator of the TWK Conference, the conference’s disaster response group has hosted over 120 Early Response Team (ERT) members from the Tennessee River, Caney Fork, and Harpeth Districts within the TWK Conference; they have also worked with ERTs from Louisiana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, North Georgia, and Florida. These and other ERTs continue to help in pressing early response recovery efforts.

As the District Superintendent of the Purchase District of the TWK Conference, Rev. Nancy Johnston Varden, wrote in the district’s most recent newsletter, “Debris removal remains a primary focus and necessity in our communities, and we are thankful for all the efforts by countless groups [throughout the UMC connection] that are making that happen.” She also encouraged all churches to create and implement a “Disaster Response Plan” in anticipation of future damage-creating storms. 

The disaster response arm of the TWK Conference has also been heavily involved in Long Term Recovery (LTR) group formation in Graves, Fulton, and Hickman counties in Kentucky, as well as Obion, Weakley, and Cheatham counties in Tennessee. 

Craig noted that LTR rebuild and repair groups are asked to please register their interest in assisting on the TWK website. It is estimated that LTR projects will begin in full in May of this year, with each area operating on a context-appropriate schedule.

Supplies are not needed at this time. As Craig said, “Monetary donations allow the conference to provide necessary resources as unmet needs are revealed in the LTR efforts.” The conference will continue to use donations to direct resources to communities as and wherever needed. 

We thank you for your continued support, committed effort in relief responses, and consistent giving as we continue to work toward the rehabilitation of those areas impacted by the December storms. 

To learn more about how your group can volunteer to help this spring or summer as well as information on how to donate financially, please go to