United Church of Christ

UCC hurricane recovery work teams to Puerto Rico will help build sustainability

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Hurricane Maria damage at the IEUPR camp.

UCC Disaster Ministries seeks to help disaster-impacted communities build back better and for the long term, and to prepare for and mitigate the impact of future disasters. That’s exactly what it’s seeking to do in Puerto Rico, struggling to recover after Hurricanes Maria and Irma last September caused widespread devastation and destruction across the entire island.

In partnership with the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico (IEUPR – Evangelical United Church of Puerto Rico), UCC Disaster Ministries has sent Judy and Doug Moore, Partners in Service for long-term disaster recovery, to Puerto Rico for several months.

Volunteer work teams are being recruited now for deployment beginning June 1 to the Humacao city area to repair homes and church properties, including a church and a church camp where volunteers will be housed. "Churches have already gathered lists of houses needing necessary repairs," the Moores said. "Most needed are roofs, paint, cleaning, windows and doors. The camp needs bunk ladders, roofing, clean-up, railings and cement supports for security gates."

UCC Disaster Ministries is helping create a base for this work by supporting development of a Social Action and Emergency Action ministry within the church.

In the short run, the ministry will engage volunteers to help with repairs to homes and church properties. This will include vetting clients (case management), volunteer coordination, oversight of contractors and ongoing collaboration with potential partners and government agencies.

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Hurricane Maria damage at the IEUPR camp.

In the longer run, the joint UCC Disaster Ministries/IEUPR recovery plan notes that the project will allow for the church to be more organized for times of disaster and be more accurate with the work without impacting the ongoing ministry of the church in other areas.

"With this ministry the IEUPR will be able to be closer to all the communities that need help, be more efficient and effective during response and provide training to prepare church members for emergency response," according to the joint recovery plan. "The IEUPR will also support preparedness efforts that will allow churches to store food, water, emergency kits for quick distribution in communities immediately following a disaster."

UCC Ministries initial investment of $155,000 provides for hiring coordinator(s) to oversee the joint effort; purchase of a vehicle dedicated to disaster recovery work; construction materials, tools and supplies, and a generator to restore power at the camp and for future back-up generation.

This is in addition to the leveraging of partnerships valued at several hundred thousand dollars and more than $52,000 of direct assistance to meet immediate needs. Details at http://www.ucc.org/disaster_puerto_rico

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