Contact: UCC Disaster Ministries
The Disaster Event:
Hurricane Maria (September 2017) was the worst natural disaster on record to hit Puerto Rico. Nearly 3,000 people died - more than 60 in the hurricane and the rest from the crippling of health, power, water and other systems for months after the storm. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, estimates it will need $139 billion to fully recover.
UCC Disaster Ministries, working hand in hand with the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico:
- immediately responded to partners’ requests for generators, water filters, hygiene kits, food, first aid kits, tarps, construction materials, tools, vehicles and medical equipment.
- deployed Partners in Service Disaster Volunteers Doug and Judy Moore, who set up volunteer housing and scheduled volunteer work teams from across the U.S. (The value of their labor: $95,000).
- gave preparedness workshops, funds for tuition assistance and pastoral support.
- fielded 14 work teams from May-December 2018 comprising 96 persons from 20 churches. The value of their labor: $95,000.
- restored 57 houses from May-December 2018, with 43 of those completed by volunteers. Almost all needed new roofs and painting. IEUPR repaired additional houses before May.
2018 Funding: $504,849
What's Next? "We need more volunteers to help us stretch our resources and reach," said Zach Wolgemuth, UCC Disaster Ministries Executive. "Many more houses are on the waiting list." Work teams currently are being scheduled through the end of 2019.
Work may include repairing cement roofs, light carpentry, metal and wood roofing repair, and painting interior ceilings and walls. Most of the work will be done in the Humacao city area, the hardest hit area in Puerto Rico.
Volunteers should be prepared to work hard. The work will involve being exposed to a hot and humid climate, some heavy lifting, and climbing ladders. There is also some work that does not entail climbing up onto roofs.
Contact: UCC Disaster Ministries
• Preparation for the trip: "Mission Trips That Matter" by Don C. Richter, Upper Room Books
• On-Site Reflection: "Meeting God in the Ruins: Devotions for Disaster Volunteers." Free copies may be ordered from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by calling 800.638.3522 ext. 2580 (ISBN 6-0001-6788-1); pay shipping only.
• Follow-Up Action: Help your local community prepare for possible disaster and response. Be sure your congregation has a plan in case of local disaster (see http://www.ucc.org/disaster_resources). Get to know your UCC Conference Disaster Coordinator and stay involved.
Air conditioned dormitory style bunk bed volunteer accommodations at the IEUPR church camp. Volunteers will be using the camp kitchen to prepare meals.
Cost: Lodging and use of the kitchen are free however, donations to the camp are always welcome and appreciated. Volunteers are responsible for their own airfare, food and rental car.
Minimum Age: 16 years with a parental consent form.
Group Size: 15 maximum.
Adult to Youth Ratio: Each group must include a minimum ratio of at least 1 adult to every 4 youth of each gender.
Tools: Tools are provided. Volunteers are welcome to bring personal tools if they so choose.
Other Information: It is helpful, but not necessary, that work groups have two people knowledgeable in home repair and rebuilding. The worksites may be up to an hour’s drive away from the camp.
"We are supporting our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and call on all our churches to continue to pray and give financially for what will be a long road ahead," said Zach Wolgemuth, UCC Disaster Ministries Executive.