United Church of Christ

Disaster Recovery - Puerto Rico

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For more info/to volunteer contact: uccdisaster.puertorico@gmail.com

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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.

Project/Focus:

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 United States.

- sponsored trauma recovery and disaster preparedness workshops, and released funds for tuition assistance and pastoral support.

- is working closely with the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico (IEUPR) to recruit work teams primarily to restore roofs (pictured). They fielded 446 volunteers total in 2018 and 2019.

In 2019, volunteers completed 57 houses (65 in 2018) and renovated volunteer accommodations and camp and conference facilities.  As of December, IEUPR counted 111 houses waiting for assistance. 

Volunteer work teams are being recruited through at least June 2020; longer if sufficient funding can be raised.

UCC Disaster Ministries in 2019 also:

  • Assisted Ryder Memorial Hospital in Humacao with procuring and shipping equipment of equipment, and with a two-year start-up grant to create a formal development office.

    The grant of $50,000 will help the hospital with ongoing recovery by creating fundraising strategies and collaborations with other organizations in such areas as disaster preparedness training; acquire specialized equipment; strengthen outreach and preventive care for vulnerable communities; develop internships and voluntarism, and develop other programs to support its mission, such as palliative and spiritual care.

  • Contributed funds for restoration of space for a church’s Mission Center in the Santurce neighborhood of San Juan in line with its commitment to support community-led recovery efforts that address socioeconomic challenges to vulnerable survivors’ recovery.

  • stocked churches with emergency tool kits.

Total UCC investment to date exceeds $770,000.

There is still much work to be done in Puerto Rico to recover from Hurricane Maria. Close to 30,000 homes still have blue tarp roofs, and thousands of homes still need interior repairs. 

Oct. 8, 2019 - In Puerto Rico, UCC and IEUPR complete 105 roofs!

How to Help Families in Puerto Rico

UCC 9/19/2018 News Story on the First Anniversary of Maria

Lavinia's Hurricane Maria Story

Related story: Still fleeing Maria's aftermath - Puerto Ricans in Pennsylvania

Educational/Advocacy Components:

• 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.

DORM_Resized.jpgAccommodations:

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.

Index to All Current Volunteer Opportunities

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Read more about UCC Disaster Ministries