August 26, 2008
The first big storm of the hurricane season continues to bring “residual” rain storms to southern states in the U.S. Tropical Storm Fay’s biggest impact was on the state of Florida, after the storm inched its way back and forth across the state, making landfall in Florida a record four times, there were at least 13 deaths and more than 1,000 homes damaged.
The United Church of Christ, National Disaster Ministries is seeking $150,000 for the current response and long term recovery efforts. Donations should be sent to the One Great Hour of Sharing special fund, Emergency USA marked for “Tropical Storm Fay.”
The UCC will assist with clean up and will participate in rebuilding. Part of the clean up effort includes supplying some of the personal protection equipment needed by home owners and volunteers to protect against health issues related to mold and bacteria. $6.98 will purchase one each: Tyvek coverall with hood and boot, chemical splash goggle, nitrile glove, and N95 respirator. This equipment will help to protect home owners and volunteers during clean up. A minimum of 2000 pieces are likely to be provided to Florida.
Additionally, the UCC is supporting the Church World Service Appeal by sending from OGHS $5,000 to assist farm workers impacted by this storm. CWS is in contact with the Farmworker Association of Florida in its response to assist farm workers struggling to recover from Fay, and to help prepare for future disasters. With CWS help, FWAF plans to construct a 15-by-25 addition to its Pierson, FL office to serve as a disaster response center.
Farm workers and their families are frequently left out of federal and private disaster response assistance, which greatly limits their ability to recover. Language, cultural and health issues complicate disaster response for many. The FWAF Disaster Response Center would function as an emergency storage, donation collection and distribution, and food preparation site. It will include emergency power and function as a focal point so national agency resources may be accessed by farm workers in 13 counties.
Kent Siladi, conference minister; and Karen Georgia Thompson, disaster response and recovery minister for the UCC Florida Conference report that there are no major damages to UCC families’ homes or to local churches. A note from the pastoral letter:
“Conference staff spent much of last week contacting local congregations in the southeast and southwest parts of the state. We have also contacted Pastors in Brevard County. So far, there are no major damages reported by our Pastors, or members of our UCC congregations in those areas. We will continue to be in contact with congregations farther northeast as the heavy rain continues northward. We are especially concerned for congregations in Brevard county where rainfall totals are at a 24-hour high with more rain expected over the next 24 hours. Further concern rests with counties north of Brevard in Fay’s projected track. There are expectations of flooding, as Fay continues to move slowly.” Fay has moved out of Florida, however, rivers continue to rise, threatening communities with further flooding. Most of Florida's 63 counties had at least a passing meeting with Fay.
There will be need for clean up of homes. As of this date, only local groups are being asked to assist – there is no housing available right now for groups from outside of Florida. Information for volunteer work group opportunities both clean up and repair will be updated on the Florida Conference Website.
The Rev. Karen Thompson of the United Church of Christ serves as a member of the Florida VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster). She said she has had a chance to look at the overall picture of damage in the state from that position and as the associate minister for disaster recovery and response for her church's statewide organization.
"There are a lot of people in need, especially in Brevard County," she said.
The UCC, the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church and several other organizations are working to ensure the clean up kits they need to help survivors get their homes back in order are ready to go. The Red Cross has opened (and, in some cases, closed) shelters around the state to give temporary relief to those who were put out of their homes. Most of the thousands who were displaced have gone to stay with family and friends.”
For further information about conditions in Florida, you may contact Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. Pray for people who live in communities affected by tropical storms.
2. To help those affected by disasters you may, send gifts payable to your congregation marked for “Tropical Storm Fay” with the request they be sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries, Financial Services.
3. Send gifts, made out to Wider Church Ministries and marked in the memo portion “Tropical Storm Fay” to Financial Services; Wider Church Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.
4. Make a secure on-line donation.