OVERVIEW OF 2008
Atlantic Hurricane Season & UCC Response
Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, and Ike, as well as Tropical Storm Hanna have left a trail of death and destruction across the nations of the Caribbean, throughout Florida and across the Gulf Coast of the United States. Due to the ongoing nature of these storms, damage assessment is still taking place. Here is what is known as of Saturday, September 13.
Hurricane Ike battered a wide swath of the Texas and Louisiana coasts before making landfall this morning at Galvaston, Texas as a Category 2 Hurricane. The extent of damage is not yet know, but is expected to be extensive.
Hurricane Fay made landfall in Florida a record four times, causing at least 13 deaths and damaging more than 1,000 homes. A report of damage to the Florida Keys from Hurricane Ike's residual storms is expected within the week.
Thankfully, New Orleans experienced a successful evacuation and did not receive a direct hit from Hurricane Gustav. Many other communities in Mississippi and Louisiana, however, experienced significant wind damage and extensive flooding. The community of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was particularly hard hit, as was the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Community.
UCC colleagues in Biloxi, Mississippi, report several homes which were re-built in Harrison and Hancock counties following Hurricane Katrina experienced flooding from Gustav's storm surge. Many fishing boats were damaged; which is a real blow to this industry which was just recovering following Hurricane Katrina.
Tropical Storm Hanna moved quickly up the eastern seaboard, bringing significant rainfall but not the extensive flooding which had been feared.
UCC Response: One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) emergency grants have been sent to support Church World Service (CWS) material goods shipments to Texas, Louisiana and Florida. CWS Hygiene Kits, CWS Baby Kits and CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets are urgently needed. Preparing CWS Kits is a tangible way local churches, community groups and others may directly help people in need. Click here to find out how.
LOUISIANA – The UCC Ohio Conference, with OGHS support, is delivering 500 clean up buckets and 300 personal care kits to the Native American community in Montegut, LA. Contact with a local partner, Louisiana Environmental Action Network in Baton Rouge is being maintained to help us keep updated on appropriate needs.
FLORIDA – An initial shipment of 500 personal protection equipment packages (Tyvek suit, gloves, respirator and goggles) is on the way to the UCC Florida Conference for use by homeowners and volunteers as they clean out flooded homes.
TEXAS - CWS Hygiene Kits, Baby Kits; Clean Up Buckets and blankets have been sent to a Texas for quick distribution in the wake of Hurricane Ike.
MISSISSIPPI – UCC Back Bay Mission is working with families who have experienced flooding from the storm surge. The food pantry is fully operational and assisting people with basic needs.
HAITI - the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere has been pummeled by each of the storms. 337 deaths are confirmed. 170,780 families displaced. Flooding in Gonaives, Haiti's 4th largest city has washed out all land routes and impeded food relief distributions. Crop damage is expected to reach historic proportions. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. House of Hope, a UCC partner near Port-au-Prince, lost its portside building and all food and resources used in its education program for working children.
UCC Response: One Great Hour of Sharing emergency grants have been rushed to CWS to support shipment of blankets, hygiene and baby kits; House of Hope and CONSEPH (Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti) to provide emergency food relief.
CUBA - Hurricane Gustav left 100,000 people homeless. The full extent of damage from Hurricane Ike is yet to be know, but appears to be quite extensive. The Cuba Council of Churches is gathering information and will make their needs known next week.
UCC Response: One Great Hour of Sharing has provided an emergency grant to CWS to assist in shipping relief materials. CWS has special permission from the US Government to ship material supplies to Cuba.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - At least 5,000 persons were evacuated in northern DR due to flooding caused by rains following Hurricane Gustav. Flooding from the Yaque River caused significant damage to crops.
UCC Response: A One Great Hour of Sharing emergency grant was rushed to long time UCC partner Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID) to provide emergency assistance of food and shelter materials to impacted communities and assistance with crop restoration.
JAMAICA - has suffered significant damage to infrastructure and agriculture from the recent storms.
UCC Response: United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, our partner, is making plans to assist peasant farmers in replanting their crops. A One Great Hour of Sharing emergency grant is being sent.