On April 16, 2016, Ecuador suffered its deadliest earthquake in decades. 663 people died. A state of emergency was declared in all of Ecuador’s six coastal provinces. Hundreds of homes collapsed. In the year following the quake, UCC Disaster Ministries has sent nearly $18,000 to help survivors get through the initial emergency and take steps to long-term recovery - including 30 families in Sua, Esmeraldas, who are establishing businesses with microloans.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries this week sent another $50,000 for Hurricane Matthew recovery in Haiti, bringing its total to $136,000 since the storm raked that island nation last October. The funds are going toward repair of as many as 400 homes, two schools and several community meeting spaces, fortifying them against future storms and earthquakes, and are helping provide seeds to farmers who lost last fall's harvest to Matthew.
This is a story about how people in two countries, two U.S. states and two cities kept 24 surplus bunk beds and six dressers from a wasteful end in a landfill by redeploying them to a United Church of Christ congregation that expects to start hosting disaster recovery work teams soon.
The United Church of Christ is sending an initial $85,000 in aid to South Sudan and three other African counties to help people combating a crisis fueled by war, severe drought and massive food shortages, with famine declared in some areas. "This crisis, this emergency demands our immediate attention and response," said Zach Wolgemuth, executive director, UCC Disaster Ministries. "The funding that we've received from our generous donors has allowed us to respond quickly and undoubtedly save lives."
Thanks to a willing spirit and the determination to make it happen, the United Church of Christ of St. Augustine, Fla., housed its first Hurricane Matthew recovery work team last week, and is ready to host additional teams over the course of the next year or two, until work is complete. The volunteers were organized by Granville, Ill., United Church of Christ.
Open Table UCC in Ottawa, Ill., doesn't wear its name lightly. "Feeding is something we do," said moderator-elect Heather Francis. "We talk about both spiritual and literal nourishment here." So it's no surprise that, after a tornado struck Naplate and Ottawa, Ill., February 28 – killing two, damaging more than 210 homes and knocking out almost everyone's power – Open Table UCC stepped up promptly to meet affected residents' need to eat.
The United Church of Christ's Florida Conference is matching UCC National Disaster Ministries' matching grant of $250 for Florida congregations to assemble CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets and/or CWS School and Hygiene Kits.
When a natural or technological disaster strikes a community, beginning the process of long-term recovery quickly is essential. Yet, it can be a daunting task for local leaders who may not have experience in disaster recovery and may have suffered damage and loss themselves. The ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) is working to help communities shorten the time between the immediate disaster response and long-term recovery.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries and its partners in the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative mobilized $274,002 worth of volunteer labor in 2016 to help South Carolina homeowners recover following the severe floods of October 2015.
Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 was the worst storm to strike Haiti since 1964. It killed up to 1,000, displaced more than 140,000 and left 1.4 million in need of humanitarian assistance. It wiped out crops and destroyed or damaged homes and schools. UCC Disaster Ministries is funding recovery work that includes seed distribution, repair and reconstruction of homes and schools, and distribution of water purification tablets to help stem the spread of cholera.
When the UCC's Partners in Service network held its annual meeting last week, the four volunteers who serve in UCC Disaster Ministries were among them. They are among 28 Partners in Service currently serving in various ministries. It is our pleasure to introduce them to you! We trust you will be inspired by their stories of how they got involved and by what they do.
In preparation for this year's heavy storm season, United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is turning to church congregations to help overcome a shortage of much-needed cleanup buckets, stocked with essential supplies that are used after a disaster strikes. UCC Disaster Ministries is offering congregations matching grants of up to $250 as an incentive to assemble Church World Service kits — in particular, CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets but also CWS School and Hygiene Kits.
Swaziland has the world's highest HIV prevalence rate and a high HIV incidence rate. Various studies show it is not poverty alone that drives the epidemic but other factors.
Monica Liddle, missionary, Lospalos, Timor, formerly supported by One Great Hour of Sharing, returns to the mission field, along with husband Tom Liddle. Her work in community outreach is helping reduce preventable illnesses through better sanitation.
Think of all the ways you have used water today. Now imagine walking each morning to gather water for your family, knowing the water you were collecting was unclean and could make the members of your family sick. This story, a moment for mission can also be downloaded and used as a bulletin insert to help promote the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
"I hope people know how devastating this was and still is. It's over a year since the storm and people are still struggling and suffering from it. We still need help." Those are the words of Cynthia Charles, 57, of Columbia, S.C., who was among thousands in communities across South Carolina and in other states whose homes suffered damage from high winds and record-setting torrential rains in October 2015.
UCC Disaster Ministries has just transmitted $16,178 to Global Ministries partners in Japan who are reaching out to an underserved group of survivors of the triple earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster in March 2011: immigrant women. Some 1,100 Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Thai immigrant women in Fukushima and Shirakawa, Japan, continue to struggle for information and support following the disaster.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries has approved a $25,000 grant to support the work of the Genesee County Hispanic Latino Collaborative (GCHLC) in Flint, Mich., to serve Spanish-speaking households affected by the water crisis. Woodside Church UCC in Flint is providing the collaborative with space long term as it responds to the needs of an under-served and overlooked population.
When faced with a need, offer the resources you have - and do it with style! That's what the Franklinton Center at Bricks, a UCC covenant partner in rural Whitakers, N.C., did last month when it met an urgent request to house Mennonite Disaster Service volunteer work teams about to start coming to help the area clean up from Hurricane Matthew.
As Hurricane Matthew scraped its destruction across western Haiti in October, it destroyed the fall 2016 harvest. In response, UCC Disaster Ministries is helping fund seed distribution so that farmers will not lose the next planting season.
From Florida to the Carolinas, Hurricane Matthew survivors in the United States are asking, "What do we do now?" United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries Is playing its part in helping them move toward recovery, most recently with deployment of two long-term recovery volunteers to Florida and training in long-term recovery basics in the Carolinas.
Summary, updated in mid-November, of the April 2016 Ecuador earthquakes disaster and what United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is doing to help relief and recovery. The page includes an Ecuador earthquake bulletin insert, materials for children, a youth activity and a bookmark.
Update of a 10/14/2016 story: An Oct. 22 benefit concert of Brazilian music featuring musicians originally from the Philippines and France raised more than $2,700 for UCC Disaster Ministries to support recovery from Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean in October and from flooding in Louisiana in August. Thank you, and congratulations!
"I was just so amazed that someone would take time to come to volunteer their services to do the work, not taking anything for it. And the service that was rendered was so professional!" That’s how Angela S. of Gadsden, S.C., expressed her appreciation for an ecumenical volunteer work team's help with major repairs to her home, damaged in South Carolina's week-long deluge in October 2015.
Hundreds of thousands of lives have been uprooted by Hurricane Matthew, from the Caribbean to North Carolina where flood waters have yet to crest, let alone recede. UCC Disaster Ministries, which has been present to the affected areas since long before the storm, is responding with support for survivors - first, emergency food, water, shelter and sanitation, then early recovery and livelihood restoration, then long-term recovery.
Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti on the morning of October 4 and in Cuba later that afternoon. This powerful and slow-moving storm battered islands of the Caribbean and the United States' Atlantic coast. Over 1,000 people have died. Devastation and displacement abound. The United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are well situated to respond robustly to people impacted both in the Caribbean and within the United States.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries has just awarded a $3,000 solidarity grant to Immanuel United Church of Christ in Clarksville, Iowa, which is helping members and neighbors affected by severe flooding. Heavy rain that started in mid-September and the resulting flooding are causing tremendous damage to homes and crops in Iowa. More than 30 inches of rain in two weeks have caused several rivers to overflow their banks, beginning in the northeast and rolling south.
Imagine volunteering in a disaster-stricken community for a month or longer at a time. That is the commitment of 17 participants from three denominations, including 10 from the United Church of Christ, who are beginning an 11-day Disaster Project Leadership Training today (Sept. 27).
Disaster-related psychosocial trauma can take up to three years to heal, especially for school children. In Nepal, UCC Disaster Ministries' support is helping tens of thousands of children and adults recover psychologically from the terrifying effects of the April 2015 earthquakes, Nepal's worst in more than 80 years. Program Executive Zach Wolgemuth just returned from a 10-day visit to Nepal, and tells the story.
In Nepal, last year's two powerful earthquakes damaged or destroyed many communities' water collection and distribution systems. They even moved or emptied many underground water sources as the earth shook and shifted. UCC Disaster Ministries has helped many communities repair or replace their water systems. Program Executive Zach Wolgemuth tells the story of one such community, in Nepal's Dhading District.
The contributions a local congregation can make to long-term recovery following a disaster that affected its area include not only "stuff," but also space and basic hospitality. Consider the example of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in West Columbia, S.C., a community hard hit by the record rainfall and flooding that beset South Carolina last October. The church has been hosting disaster recovery work teams almost every week since January.
The following prayers were prepared on the 5th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. A few adaptations have been made as they help us observe this 15th anniversary on 9-11-2016.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is stepping up its support for West Virginia communities struggling to recover from their second "one in 1,000 years" flood in June. UCC Conference Disaster Coordinators Jim Ditzler (Ohio) and Karl Jones (Pennsylvania Southeast) are working with affected communities to establish long-term recovery groups and to lay the groundwork for eventual deployment of UCC work teams.
Parts of Louisiana received 30 inches of rain within three days in August, leaving 20 parishes in a state of emergency and stranding nearly 30,000 people. In all, over 12,000 needed to seek refuge in shelters, nearly a dozen died, and an estimated 40,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas. UCC Disaster Ministries ordered 1,000 CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets for distribution by the Red Cross and other partners and will support community-led long-term recovery, including deployment of work teams.
The disaster ministries of the Church of the Brethren, United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have partnered to develop the Disaster Response Support Initiative (DRSI) and are seeking applicants for a Long-Term Recovery Group Formation Specialist. The application deadline is August 31.
Residents of Sua, Ecuador, had already suffered damage to their homes and the loss of household furnishings and livestock to 4-foot-deep flooding in January when the April 2016 magnitude 7.8 earthquake added another layer of destruction. The back-to-back disasters greatly diminished coastal Sua's fishing and tourism industries, the community's economic base. With support from UCC Disaster Ministries, 33 Sua families will soon have access to flexible financing and training to help them resume their livelihoods.
Attention potential volunteers! South Carolina homeowners still struggling to recover from last fall's devastating storms and floods need your help. Week-long work teams are being recruited now, especially and urgently for September and October. UCC Disaster Ministries and its partners in the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) had planned to wrap up their work in South Carolina in August, but are extending it at least through October given flood survivors' yet unmet needs.
For 48-year-old Iraq veteran Robert Z. of West Columbia, S.C., buying a house was an important step in his years-long recovery from war-related post-traumatic stress disorder. But the storms of October 2015 caused damage that upset Robert's dreams - until UCC Disaster Ministries and its partners in the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative stepped forward to help.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is looking for assistance to help the people in West Virginia recover from historic floods. Thousands are facing a prolonged cleanup effort following deadly and devastating storms that swamped much of the state last week, and the UCC will be there to help long-term.
When it rained hard and steady for more than a week in South Carolina last October, homeowner William H.'s love for the sound of rain on the roof was sorely tested. "The rain was so heavy that water leaked in through all the edges of my home, including the roof and door and window frames," he said. He struggled to find help repairing the damage until the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative stepped up.
A widowed shopkeeper in need of a safe home; a chicken farmer in need of "seed money " and a business plan; three villages whose wells suddenly went dry – these are among the beneficiaries of UCC Disaster Ministries’ support for relief and recovery in Nepal following last year’s devastating earthquake, which now totals $240,000.
The situation is urgent and the need is great in Ecuador, which suffered a catastrophic earthquake in April that killed 663 people and injured 6,274. Nearly 30,000 people are still in temporary shelters. One million people and 90 percent of homes have been affected. The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are seeking to raise $500,000 for Ecuador earthquake recovery and have just co-published resources for churches to use to educate their members and rally their support.
A summary, updated in early June, of the April 2016 Ecuador earthquakes disaster and what United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries is doing to help relief and recovery. JUST ADDED TO THE PAGE: an Ecuador earthquake bulletin insert, materials for children, a youth activity and a bookmark.
The United Church of Christ's Micronesia churches took steps toward increased disaster preparedness and resiliency this month when they invited UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth to address their biennial General Assembly. It was an important step in capacity building in this Western Pacific region prone to cyclones, earthquakes and drought and rapidly rising sea levels due to climate change.
The disaster ministries of the Church of the Brethren, United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have partnered to develop the Disaster Response Support Initiative (DRSI) and are seeking applicants for the following positions: a Case Management Specialist and a Long-Term Recovery Group Formation Specialist. The application deadline has been extended to May 31.
With each new house that goes up, another family steps closer toward recovery from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. As the rebuilding effort in the Philippines continues — more than two years after the most destructive storm to make landfall ripped through the South Pacific — the United Church of Christ continues to help shelter the survivors who lost everything. As of March, UCC Disaster Ministries has provided a total of $1.13 million to support the initial recovery effort and future needs of the survivors.
As the people of Nepal mark the first anniversary today of the most devastating earthquake to hit their small country in more than 80 years, the United Church of Christ is reaffirming its long-term commitment to help survivors put their lives back together.
April 2016 update of main UCC Nepal Earthquake Response page, including "By the Numbers," "Latest Resources," links to past stories and updates, and how to help.