September 1, 2011
Hurricane Irene continues to wreak havoc and destruction in Northeast United States. Rebuilding efforts projected to take several years and cost billions of dollars. Financial donations and CWS kits needed now.
Hurricane Irene has left extensive flood and wind damage from the Caribbean and Puerto Rico to Maine, as well as causing at least 40 deaths; more than 4 million homes are still without power and more than 10,000 people are in FEMA shelters.
Preliminary damage assessments are just starting so there are no numbers yet available of homes destroyed and
damaged. In New England the rivers crests are just starting to recede, but the flood damage has been extensive. In New York state several dams are being inspected to insure their integrity. Several towns in Vermont and North Carolina are still isolated and can only be reached by helicopter.
United Church of Christ congregations in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Vermont have reached out to provide food, water, shelter and counseling to survivors of this major disaster.
The rebuilding efforts in three countries, sixteen states, Puerto Rico and Washington DC is expected to take several years. Specifically affected are: Dominican Republic, Haiti and Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Washington DC, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico.
One Great Hour of Sharing emergency grants have been shared with UCC congregations and ministries impacted by Hurricane Irene as well as with Church World Service. See below for more information.
Church World Service Response: CWS is shipping Emergency Cleanup Buckets, Blankets and Health Kits to numerous social service agencies and churches, including the Vermont Conference of the UCC.
CWS expects more requests as preliminary damage assessments are completed and as power is restored, roads are reopened and as communities can communicate their needs.
CWS Emergency Response Specialists are working with FEMA Volunteer Liaison Officers, State VOADs (voluntary Organization Active in Disaster), CWS Resource Development Personnel, CWS-member churches and others. The ERSs are assisting in getting material goods sent where most needed; providing more details about damages and needs; and will start working with communities to develop plans for the development of long term recovery committees. These committees are essential to the rebuilding of the community, for putting families back into adequate housing, and for leading the community to a "new normal." The ERSs will help train the committees, assisted by specialists in working for member communions.
Franklinton Center, Enfield, North Carolina sustained significant wind and water damage including numerous downed trees on its historic campus. Center staff have worked diligently to restore the campus to working order so they may reach out to serve the local community where many remain without electricity and adequate food and water.
UCC Vermont Conference
First Congregational UCC West Brattleboro is providing emergency housing and organizing work parties to clean up flooded homes and businesses. The church is also acting as a community center for relief efforts.
United Church of Chelsea is providing emergency housing for displaced parishioners and community members as well as distributing food. The church lost all perishable food from two freezers and a refrigerator used for the senior meals program and the local food pantry (run by the church).
Roxbury Union Congregational Church UCC is serving as an emergency shelter. The church building and parsonage have sustained water damage which caused the loss of all perishable food items for community food shelf.
Bethany UCC Randolph is responding to overwhelming needs of parishioners who have lost homes and/or business. They are providing housing for those displaced and a safe place to rest, pray and receive crisis counseling.
Richmond Congregational Church, UCC is offering outreach to those displaced, and providing space for community meetings. The church sustained water damage.
Christ's Church Saxtons River is serving as an emergency shelter and communications center in a devastated community. They are providing food and water to the community.
Tyson Congregational United Church of Christ: The church building sustained extensive water damage and has several inches of mud which needs to be removed.
Waitsfield United Church of Christ: Church sustained over 6 feet of flood water. Extensive damage to electric and ruined furnace. (no flood insurance)
Waterbury Congregational United Church of Christ is serving as an emergency shelter for residents and as center for recovery efforts. The Waterbury community was hit hard by Irene. They will be serving as one of two drop-off and storage sites for relief items from churches and from Church World Service.
Wilmington Congregational Church, UCC: This church is in one of the hardest hit areas. The church is providing bottled water, including hiking it in to those who are cut off. They are offering power bars and simple meals, space for displaced community groups, a center for relief efforts (pastor is local contact), and may become the temporary town hall.
West Dover Congregational Church, UCC: This church is also in a hard-hit area. They have provided temporary housing, food and water and a gathering space for community groups and those needing a place to rest and pray. Their pastor is also providing crisis counseling as needed.
Global Ministries' partners The Dominican Evangelical Church Emergency Committee, Dominican Republic and regional CONASPEH Coordinating Teams, Haiti have also received OGHS emergency grants to support relief efforts.
How YOU Can Help
1. Pray for the people and communities impacted by Hurricane Irene and all those who server as first responder emergency personnel.
2. Make a gift payable to your congregation marked for Hurricane Relief, with the request they be sent through your Conference Office on to United Church of Christ, Financial Services, 700 Prospect Avenue E, Cleveland, OH 44115.
3. Send gifts, payable to United Church of Christ and marked in the memo portion Hurricane Relief, to United Church of Christ, Financial Services, 700 Prospect Avenue E, Cleveland, OH 44115.
4. Make a secure on-line donation. Donate Now. Please note: Hurricane Relief in the Comments section.
5. Assemble Church World Service clean up and hygiene kits which are urgently needed.