Having done significant damage last week in the Caribbean, Hurricane Sandy has now crossed over Eastern North America causing major power outages, flooding and damage to infrastructure and personal property. At least 65 deaths are attributed to Hurricane Sandy.
Effects of the storm include: tidal storm surge from Virginia to Maine; tropical storm winds from the coast to as far west as Illinois; heavy rains from North Carolina to Maine and up into Nova Scotia, Canada; and heavy snow fall (as much as 24 inches) in the northern Appalachian Mountains, in West Virginia in particular; and serious flooding in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Early predicted damage estimates are in the tens of millions.
One Great Hour of Sharing and UCC National Disaster Ministries is actively responding. We are in touch with Conference Ministers and UCC Disaster Response Coordinators in affected areas, all of whom are busy collecting information from congregations concerning the effects of Sandy on their members or communities.
Initial OGHS solidarity grants are on their way to Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn, New York. They are working on assisting folks in disaster covered areas to apply for the emergency food stamp credit. They will print out the forms, help people fill them out and fax them in to the appropriate government agency. Trinity UCC in Ft. London, Pennsylvania sustained significant damage to their church building. They will receive an OGHS solidarity grant to help cover costs not covered by insurance. OGHS solidarity grants are one way the entire UCC supports local congregations when disaster strikes.
Our partners at Church World Service are providing material resources in affected areas, including blankets, hygiene kits and clean-up buckets, as needed. CWS also will assist communities in developing long-term recovery plans and provide technical and financial support, as possible.
We are also coordinating with our partners, including the Latin American Caribbean Area Office of Global Ministries, Church World Service, and the ACT Alliance, all of whom are currently assessing needs. Tropical storm conditions and severe rain and wind affected Haiti from October 23 to October 27, covering all departments of the country.
In Haiti, severe flooding damaged and blocked infrastructure/roads, damaged/destroyed houses, caused loss of livestock and severe damage to agricultural fields. Evacuations have taken place in risk-prone zones and certain Internally Displaced Persons camps. New outbreaks of cholera have been reported and more are expected in the coming days. The Cuban Council of Churches, a long-time CWS partner, is conducting damage assessments in affected areas. A shipment of material goods from CWS to Cuba departed on Oct. 27.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. Pray for the people and communities across the Caribbean and United States impacted by the Hurricane Sandy.
2. To assist people impacted by this disaster, please make a gift payable to your congregation marked for “Hurricane Sandy Response” with the request they be sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries.
OR Send gifts, made out to United Church of Christ and marked in the memo portion “Hurricane Sandy Response” to United Church of Christ; Financial Services; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.