A hug of transformation and solidarity. That’s how the Rev. Edward Rivera Santiago, General Pastor of the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico (IEUPR), describes an ecumenical collaboration to repair as many homes as possible that were damaged by Hurricane Maria last September. UCC Disaster Ministries is recruiting groups of volunteers to repair roofs, do light carpentry and paint interior ceilings and walls, and has contributed more than $250,000 to the recovery effort to date.
Marlene was among homeowners affected when Hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017 devastated Volusia County on Florida’s east coast, destroying dozens of homes and leaving thousands in disrepair. Her recovery came April 8-14 at the hands of a 12-member mission team from Evangelical Reformed UCC in Frederick, Md., Christ Reformed UCC in Middletown, Md., and St. Paul’s UCC in Fleetwood, Pa.
The U.S. Virgin Islands suffered catastrophic damage after back-to-back blows from Hurricanes Irma and Maria last fall, comparable to that in Puerto Rico. But the territory’s great need for recovery help has received little media attention. A strong effort to bring tourism back to the islands has led to the impression that recovery in USVI is complete, but in reality, much of the general population is still reeling from the effects of the storms.
Imagine a disaster recovery work site where the construction supervisor sings to volunteers at the start of their workday, before confirming their assignments and accompanying them through the day. That’s what volunteers are finding in Port Arthur, Texas, where UCC Disaster Ministries and partner South East Texas Community Development Corporation (SET CDC) are restoring 17 low-income rental units that Hurricane Harvey flooded with two feet of water last August.
Like nothing she'd ever seen before. That's how Lavinia, 81, describes last September's Hurricane Maria and the storm's devastation in Puerto Rico. This spring, volunteers repaired Lavinia’s roof using materials purchased by donations to UCC Disaster Ministries. Read Lavinia's story and consider how you can help.
Call it "Balm in Gilead," if you will, for survivors of the deadly Fuego volcano eruptions in Guatemala – people who have fled the volcano’s rain of sand, rock, ash and 600-degree gases and taken refuge in church-assisted and other unofficial shelters. UCC Disaster Ministries is helping meet survivors' needs for both material and emotional "balm."
"Why not go now?" That’s what members of Grace Congregational United Church of Christ in Two Rivers, Wis., say when disaster strikes and there’s a need for hands-on recovery help. Their "go now" spirit has infused 22 mission trips, the most recent in March to UCC Disaster Ministries’ long-term recovery work site in Port Arthur, Texas.
UCC churches assembling CWS Kits are invited to stretch their resources by applying for $250 matching grants from UCC Disaster Ministries. In 2018 - the fourth year the denomination is offering the matching grants - up to 75 matching grants will be awarded. To qualify, congregations must show that they have raised at least $250 in cash and in kind for kits. Grants are given on a first-come, first-served basis.
(Update of our earlier story.) UCC Disaster Ministries is responding to help contain a serious outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
What the heck is a VOAD? UCC Disaster Ministries folks are always talking about VOADs – National VOAD this, state VOAD that, the VOAD movement. And why, as a member of the United Church of Christ, should I care about VOADs? (Answer: It's the largest and most important non-governmental disaster response and recovery network in the United States.)