U.S. storm season starts early - UCC launches $250,000 2012 Severe Storms appeal.
While winter may have been milder than usual, Spring is most assuredly having its way with tornadoes and severe weather. Recent tornadoes in the Dallas, TX, area crossed a huge area but UCC Churches, and members reported no deaths or major injuries. "The fact that no one died in the tornadoes is a rich blessing. Homes, things and possessions can always be replaced" reported the Rev. Douglas Anders, Conference Minister, South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ.
The latest tornadoes follow the swath of tornadoes that struck Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois February 28-29. More tornadoes and severe storms struck communities across the Midwest and Southeastern United States on March 2-3, with areas in southern Indiana, southern Ohio and northern and eastern Kentucky sustaining incredible damage. We give thanks that no United Church of Christ congregations or families sustained damage in those storms either.
One Great Hour of Sharing emergency funds have been made available to respond to each community impacted by the storms needing assistance.
OGHS emergency grants and supplies have been sent to Indiana and Kansas. In Kansas the funds will be utilized to help purchase snow fencing, T posts, barbed wire and cattle and hog panels so animals which are roaming free may again be safely corralled. Personal protection equipment for use by families and volunteers as they clean out their damaged homes is on the way to both Indiana and Kansas. Several additional requests for support are anticipated as the long-term recovery needs of the impacted communities become known.
United Church of Christ members who live in areas close enough to "drive in & drive out" of storm impacted communities are organizing volunteer clean up teams. The Illinois South and Ohio Conferences of the UCC have reported such plans. While more distant UCC members and friends may also wish to volunteer, now is not the time. It is best to Pray, Pay and Stay to make the most impact. As volunteer opportunities for rebuilding become available, information will be posted on the UCC Volunteer and National Disaster web pages.
Our partners at Church World Service are also hard at work. Their Emergency Response Specialists are in contact with response agencies to respond to immediate needs for material goods such as CWS Cleanup Buckets, Blankets and Hygiene Kits, collecting information about needs from state Volunteer Agencies Active in Disaster (VOADs), from interfaith organizations, and from faith leaders in the affected communities. We will also be working with CWS Emergency Response Specialists as they liaise with local, state and federal organizations and agencies to train and prepare the communities for their long-term recovery. Material goods, including cleanup buckets and hygiene kits have already been shipped to Kentucky for response in affected areas.
Funds contributed to the UCC 2012 Severe Storms appeal will be utilized to respond to severe storms which have already occurred and those anticipated in spring and summer of 2012.
How You Can Help
1. Pray for the people and communities impacted by severe storms and those serving as first responder emergency personnel.
2. Make a gift payable to your congregation marked for 2012 severe storms, 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 2012 Severe Storms, then mail to United Church of Christ, Financial Services, 700 Prospect Avenue E, Cleveland, OH 44115.
4. Make a secure on-line donation. Donate Now.
5. Assemble Church World Service clean up and hygiene kits which are urgently needed.