Local group readies disaster-relief trailer for possible emergencies

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By Donald Richie

His pastoral duties aside, First United Methodist Church minister Jimmy Owens has been pretty busy lately.

Owens, his wife Gail and Covington UMC district coordinators Jim and Barb Harris spent last Wednesday unloading, inventorying, troubleshooting and reloading the UMC disaster relief trailer at the church.

"We're getting it ready in case we get a call, an emergency call in the state of Kentucky or surrounding states," Owens said. "So we can go for disaster relief."

This all falls into the new role he has taken.

Owens was recently named state disaster relief coordinator for Kentucky United Methodist, which makes him a representative United Methodist Committee on Relief, the church's worldwide relief agency.

"I think its pretty exciting, I'm excited about it," he said. "You can do a lot of good."

Owens has been the Covington coordinator for some time.

With his new role, Owens will work alongside local organizations, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and whoever else is present in emergency situations.

"We provide long-term relief and also immediate response," he said. "We can go in an area and be self-contained."

More recently, UMC disaster relief efforts have been on the local scale. Owens said the church had a response to the February tornado which wreaked havoc across Harrison County.

Part of his duties will include keeping the items on the trailer in good condition so they can be used on the fly.

While the project is funded by UMC, Owens said the approach is nondenominational.

"You don't have to be a Methodist to get help, it's just funded by the Methodist church," he said.