As a small community more than 1,000 miles from the contiguous United States, with at least 40 percent of the population at or below the poverty line, the U.S. Virgin Islands are facing significant recovery challenges following last year’s Hurricanes Irma and Maria. A $212,000 grant from the Fund for the Virgin Islands (FFVI) to the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative will support faster, better long-term recovery on one of the USVI’s two most populous islands, St. Thomas, thousands of whose 50,000-plus residents are still struggling to recover.
Volunteers at UCC Disaster Ministries' new work site in Port Arthur, Texas, are helping restore Hurricane Harvey-devastated homes for 17 low- to moderate-income renters. As they help bring individuals and families to sustainability, their hearts are being touched by the community's enormous challenges, rich history and deep Christian faith.
When Hurricane Harvey flooded 17 of 19 affordable housing units managed by the Southeast Texas Community Development Corporation (SETCDC) in Port Arthur, Texas, tenants fled and stopped paying rent. SETCDC depleted its reserves rehabilitating three units, but until UCC Disaster Ministries offered support, they didn’t know where they would get the resources to rehab the remaining 14 units.
When you are am immigrant and disaster strikes, where do you turn for help? In Northern California, after the wildfires of last October, hundreds of Spanish speaking and other especially vulnerable survivors have been turning to First Congregational Church UCC of Sonoma (FCCS), a leading safe "go to" place, with support from UCC Disaster Ministries.
Two years ago this month, Sepa and his wife Josivini had cause to wonder whether they and their neighbors would live or die as Cyclone Winston roared across their Fiji Islands community of Navakawau, on Taveuni Island, blowing away 96 of the village’s 111 homes, including theirs. Thanks to UCC Disaster Ministries, they had shelter in the community hall while they rebuilt their home - and now, reliable drinking water and a new health center, too.
Six members of St. Paul's UCC in St. Louis, Mo., spent a week in a Harvey-battered neighborhood of Houston late last year replacing a homeowner's flood-soaked drywall and retrofitting the bathroom to make it handicapped accessible. In this commentary, Pastor Mike Roth shares some of the group's thought-provoking learnings.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries continues to be at the helm of outreach to the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have sought shelter in Pennsylvania since Hurricane Maria wreaked death and destruction across their island in late September 2017. Work that began at a Disaster Assistance Services Center in Philadelphia is now rolling out to seven other Pennsylvania cities through a series of resource fairs.
Christians are called to be present and to be healers where there are breaks and cracks in the world. Where more than welcoming people fleeing violence and assisting people who have lost everything to disaster? "Those are among the rawest breaks in our world," says Amanda Sheldon, the UCC's new National Disaster and Refugee Ministries Program Associate (since January 16).
UCC Disaster Ministries is partnering with the Southeast Texas Community Development Corporation, or SET CDC, in Port Arthur, Texas, to repair low-income rental apartments damaged in Hurricane Harvey. A volunteer work site will open there in February. Work may include but will not be limited to light carpentry, drywall, insulation, flooring, trim and painting. Read the story for details and one survivor's story!
Few of us would consider disasters to be linked to justice work because disasters don’t discriminate… or do they? It is true that many natural disasters impact rich and poor, black and white ... but the reality is that impoverished and low-income communities are more susceptible to disasters than others. Because of systemic injustices, they are more vulnerable, explains UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth in this commentary.