Contact: UCC Disaster Ministries
The Disaster Event:
Category 5 Hurricane Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record to hit Puerto Rico. It made landfall there on September 20, 2017. Puerto Rico's government has acknowledged that nearly 3,000 people died, more than 60 as a direct result of the hurricane and the rest as a result of the crippling of health care, power, water supply and other systems for months after the storm had passed (Source: CNN, Aug. 29, 2018). Maria followed Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Caribbean hurricane on record, which grazed Puerto Rico on September 6.
Maria caused Puerto Rico up to $95 billion in damage. It wiped out 80 percent of crop values, a blow to the island’s economy that also left its 3.4 million U.S. citizen residents food insecure. Maria knocked out all electricity on the entire island, disrupted water supply, crippled communications systems, damaged roads and littered the island with debris.
UCC Disaster Ministries is working in partnership with the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico (IEUPR) on this recovery mission. IEUPR churches have already gathered lists of houses needing necessary repairs. At the present time, the list includes more than 90 homes. Most homes need roof repairs and painting.
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.
• 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.