SWC Conference Disaster Coordinator update


From Phil Shea, Conference Disaster Coordinator, Southwest Conference

Greetings fellow members of our SWC UCC Congregations,

It is a challenge to keep you posted about multiple disasters without overwhelming you. I thought it may be helpful to focus each post on a specific disaster story and then a specific response that can provide assistance and hope to those affected by each disaster. Today I'd like to focus on California and I want to share with you the importance of forming volunteer teams.

I had the opportunity this week to communicate with my counterpart in northern California/Nevada as well as with our national Executive for Disaster Ministries. One pastor lost their home and ended up in one of our church shelters.. 40-50 congregants were displaced. They are only beginning to return to their homes. They are just beginning the "assessment" stage to determine the damage. There is a significant number of retired clergy in the area. Pacific American Ministries is already planning a fundraising concert. We are anticipating some specialty ministry needs which I cannot specify at this point because of the sensitivity. UCC Solidarity Grants are being offered by the UCC Disaster Ministries for early assistance and clean-up. The Community Church of Sebastopol UCC continues to offer shelter. 

Those of us who live in the western United States understand our particular affection and understanding of life and threats. As a native of Arizona I understand the unique threats and impact of wildfires. We always want to respond with a sense of urgency. Your best immediate response is financial to UCC disaster ministries . This support the Solidarity Grants and initial assistance.You can designate your gift to a specific disaster. I challenge you to do that and also think beyond that. I call it the "Inn Keeper" ministry. After the Good Samaritan administered to the initial need of the injured person beside the road he/she left some money and charged the innkeeper with the continued recovery. The injured communities in California, Texas, Florida, Louisiana need us to be healing innkeepers and volunteers for long term recovery. Please contact me to sign-up for a volunteer team in the months ahead and sign up on the UCC volunteer site. 

I would like to connect with you and begin coordinating volunteer teams to help these communities recover. If you want to organize a team from your church or join other churches to form a team, please contact me at philipshea@justicestar.org or 602-663-5065.

The disaster by the numbers:

  • 15 major wildfires are still raging
  • 41 confirmed dead
  • More than 200 missing
  • Nearly 100,000 ordered to evacuate; 40,000 still displaced
  • More than 3,000 in Red Cross and community shelters across the state
  • 217,000 acres have burned
  • More than 5,700 structures including thousands of homes have been destroyed
  • More than $3 billion in damage
  • 9,192 FEMA registrations

Keep up to date on our response efforts to all 3 hurricanes HERE.