Update: State of Southern California fires and the UCC

October 25, 2007

Firefighters across Southern California continue to battle wildfires. As winds calm today, hope grows that firs will be contained in the next week. Some of the almost one million evacuated persons are being permitted back into their communities, however, shelters are still open for the majority of people impacted.

 

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Wildfires in Southern California continue today forcing the evacuation of numbers of communities. Many of the homes that have been damaged or destroyed are owned by people who are middle to low income families who will be in need of assistance to rebuild.  Additionally, there have been a number of apartment complexes that have burned displacing residents – while we will not rebuild these buildings, persons who have no place to live will need care. 

The United Church of Christ National Disaster Ministries office working with our UCC Southern California, Nevada Conference and ecumenically is seeking $100,000 to assist with long term recovery.  These funds should be directed to the One Great Hour of Sharing special fund, Emergency USA, marked for 2007 California wildfires.  Information on how to send funds is noted below.

Jane Heckles, conference minister, UCC Southern California, Nevada Conference has provided the following update on our churches and members as of October 25.

The fires burning in southern California have affected a number of our church families. 

Reports from pastors and layleaders from all churches in the fires' path have been received.  As of today many families still have no idea if their homes have been damaged.  But the evacuation orders are beginning to lift in some parts of San Diego county this afternoon.  There are fires still burning but the wind abated on Wednesday.

All UCC church structures are safe and have not been damaged.  As of this time, only two ministers' homes remain in the way of fire.  We know that as many as a dozen UCC families have lost their homes and expect that number to rise.   A number of our churches have been sheltering families during evacuation and members have provided relief and supplies to disaster centers.

We pay tribute to the fire and rescue personnel that are working tirelessly to control these blazes.  In the coming week we hope that communities will be able to move from emergency response to longer term recovery.   At this point we are grateful for UCC Disaster Ministries support for some emergency response needs.

We will identify longer term needs in the coming weeks.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1. Pray for people who live in communities affected by wildfires.

2.  To help those affected by disasters you may, send gifts payable to your congregation marked for "Emergency USA" with the request they be sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries.

OR

3. Send gifts, made out to Wider Church Ministries and marked in the memo portion "Emergency USA" to the Office for Global Sharing of Resources; Wider Church  Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.

OR

4. Make a secure on-line donation.

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