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Non-Profits and UMC Churches Join Forces to Support San Diego Storm Victims

In the aftermath of January’s devastating storms and flooding in the San Diego area, thousands of families found themselves displaced, their homes damaged, and their lives upended. Amidst the turmoil, the Global Empowerment Mission (GEM) and the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), swiftly mobilized to aid affected families in their time of need.

GEM and VOAD provided essential assistance to families impacted by the recent natural disasters. From facilitating temporary housing solutions to aiding in home clean-up and reconstruction efforts, these organizations have been instrumental in helping affected individuals get back on their feet. Their efforts continue today, two months later, as they strive to restore a sense of normalcy by replenishing essential supplies, from toiletries to kitchen essentials, through a newly opened distribution and resourcing center.

The vital hub serves affected families as a home base for case support and a source of over a million dollars in essential items where victims of the storms can shop for free. Karl Ports, Chair of the Cal-Pac Disaster Recovery Committee and Vice Chair of San Diego VOAD, shared that “There are upwards of 915 families living in 66 hotels and motels under various city, county, and volunteer programs.” The demand for assistance remains high, with approximately 150 cases requiring immediate attention through the Crisis Cleanup app, and more needs being identified each day.

Ports said that local UMC churches have greatly supported the efforts, offering their facilities and resources to accommodate volunteers engaged in the relief work. San Carlos UMC and First UMC of San Diego opened their doors to volunteers from around the country, providing lodging from regions including the California-Nevada Conference. Additional local churches First UMC of Chula Vista and Nestor UMC expressed their readiness to host additional volunteers, equipped with the necessary amenities such as showers and kitchen facilities.

However, the work is far from over, and volunteers continue to play a pivotal role in the ongoing relief efforts. Opportunities abound for those willing to lend a helping hand, whether through food packaging and distribution or other critical tasks. You can sign up to volunteer via this link to help with food distribution and packaging. If individuals or groups are interested in helping with cleanup and rebuilding, you can contact Karl Ports at

As San Diego area families rebuild, the collaborative efforts of organizations like GEM, VOAD, and local churches serve as a testament to the power of solidarity and compassion in times of crisis. Through their collective actions, they offer not only assistance but also hope.

For individuals seeking support, the San Diego VOAD website offers a wealth of resources to navigate the challenges brought about by the recent storms and flooding.

ABC News San Diego and NBC News San Diego are also sharing this story.