Hurricane Wilma tears through Florida

October 25, 2005

One more Gulf hurricane wreaks havoc as the storm season continues Hurricane Wilma, a Category 3 storm, brought 125-mph winds and heavy rains to much of central and southern Florida, downing trees and flooding many communities.

Hurricane Wilma, a Category 3 storm, brought 125-mph winds and heavy rains to much of central and southern Florida, downing trees and flooding many communities. Approximately 5,000,000 people are without electrical power. Bill Wealand, UCC Disaster Response Coordinator and member of the team for the Florida Conference are making phone calls to pastors in the impacted areas. As information becomes known about UCC members and churches, it will be posted here on the UCC web site. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma will long be remembered as we seek to repair homes and lives.

Situation: Assessment teams are out in South Florida neighborhoods Tuesday to tally damage totals from the hurricane. Members of the Florida chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (FLVOAD) are reporting serious damage in the southeastern county of Broward. A release from Florida's State Emergency Response Team (SERT) states that more than 800 mobile homes have been seriously impacted or destroyed by Wilma. Residents there are reporting severe roof damage and flooding as well.

The storm surge hit 12 feet in Everglades City on the southwest coast. The city's elevation is zero, yet many of the houses are at least on stilts. FLVOAD members say they are waiting to hear more about the possible damage there.

SERT reports that parts of the Florida Keys were under high water, including Marathon and much of Key West. Major roads and bridges were washed out in the Keys, too.

Other members of FLVOAD are reporting that the damage from Wilma was not as severe as many expected in the areas devastated by Hurricane Charley last year. In Ft. Myers, the storm surge was not nearly as high as forecasters predicted. The Naples area is also reporting downed trees and power lines, but no major structural damage as of yet. One Charlotte County official said there appears to be no major damage there yet, either.

Authorities reported four tornado touchdowns in Brevard County on the central east coast of the state. No injuries and little damage were reported, however.

Some flooding was reported in Osceola and Orange counties, yet the counties had prepared by lowering the water level in the levees by nine feet before the storm. Damage assessments are continuing there.

Millions are without power across the state, with Florida Power and Light reporting that at least 85% of St. Lucie County alone has no electricity. According to the Florida's SERT, 71 shelters are still open across the state with more than 15,000 evacuees utilizing them.

How you can help

1. Pray for the people who have been affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and all disasters.

2. To help those affected by the Gulf Coast Hurricanes you may send gifts payable to your congregation marked for "Hope Shall Bloom-UCC Hurricane Recovery Fund" with the request they are sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries.

OR

3. Send gifts payable to Wider Church Ministries and marked in the memo portion "Hope Shall Bloom-UCC Hurricane Recovery" Fund to Wider Church Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.

OR

4. Make a secure on-line donation

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