UCC Disaster Ministries
Response and Resources


Disaster Work Team Forming and California Wildfire Update

 Phil Shea is currently talking with a couple of our conference churches about forming a Disaster Recovery Work Team to do a one week long-term recovery project. Below are short descriptions of three potential sites. If your congregation is interested in participating in the Work Team or would like to be kept in the loop as the process develops, please contact Phil.
Phil Shea

California North Bay Recovery

[Though UCC Disaster Ministries has not formally set up work projects, Phil toured the area earlier this year and there are work team opportunities available in both the Santa Rosa and Sonoma areas.]

Virtually no one in Northern California will soon forget the terrible devastation of the early October firestorms that swept through Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Yuba and Solano counties. For those of us here in Contra Costa County, we will remember being awakened by smoke on Oct. 8 in the middle of the night, while those in the fire zone remember fleeing for their lives.

Working quickly with Zach Wolgemuth and Mary Schaller Blaufuss in the national setting of the UCC and our own conference minister, the Rev. Diane Weible, we were able to create a solidarity grant to help FCC, Sonoma hire a short-term "service navigator/community organizer" named Mario Castillo (pictured, right, with the Rev. Curran Reichert). Mario, who has now been seen on many local media outlets raising issues about undocumented and Spanish-speaking people’s unique needs in this disaster, is also helping to reach out to folks who may or may not qualify for federal disaster aid, but could access private sources of support.  And as a way to "open doors" and support Mario’s outreach efforts, NCNC congregations have also assembled over 80 food bags to distribute to those in need so that we can help folks connect with recovery resources. Congregations have also sent respirator masks to facilitate safe clean-up of the toxic ash.

Associations, churches, and individuals have donated generously and a number of folks stand ready to volunteer as needed. But the long-term need is great and as the UCC, we pledge to be in it for the long haul. So even though the headlines have diminished, our energy to help must not decrease. Though UCC Disaster Ministries has not formally set up work projects, Phil toured the area earlier this year and there are work team opportunities available in both the Santa Rosa and Sonoma areas.

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Worksite in Port Arthur, Texas

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing torrential rains and devastating flooding to Texas, leaving 900,000 people in need. Among those hit hardest - low-income renters in already economically precarious Port Arthur. UCC Disaster Ministries is partnering with the Southeast Texas Community Development Corporation (SETCDC) to repair its 17 apartments that took in two feet of water. Work may include but will not be limited to light carpentry, drywall, insulation, flooring, trim and painting. NOTE: Volunteers stay FOR FREE in a newly renovated house.

Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery Volunteer Mission Groups Needed

Work teams of up to 15 volunteers each may sign up now to help with hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico. Beginning June 1, 2018, groups will serve for one-week periods. Work may include debris removal, cleaning, tarping, sanitation, light carpentry, roofing, and repair work of homes and/or church properties in the Humacao city area. Minimum age: 16 with a parental consent form. We need work teams to sign up now!  


UCC Disaster Ministries helps fund Ebola treatment, prevention in DRC

UCC Disaster Ministries is responding to help contain a serious outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


What is a VOAD, and why should I care?

Our SWC Disaster Coordinator is participating in FEMA’s National Mass Care Exercise being hosted in Arizona during the week of 21-24 May. Our conference participation is through VOAD. What the heck is a VOAD? UCC Disaster Ministries folks are always talking about VOADs – National VOAD this, state VOAD that, the VOAD movement. And why, as a member of the United Church of Christ, should I care about VOADs? (Answer: It's the largest and most important non-governmental disaster response and recovery network in the United States.)


Three Hawai'i UCC churches live, help, pray in volcano's shadow

The Rev. Eric S. Anderson, pastor of Church of the Holy Cross UCC in Hilo, Hawai'i, reports on the UCC congregations close to the Kilauea volcano.


After Cyclone Gita, UCC grant helps seminary students recover

A UCC Disaster Ministries solidarity grant is helping international students at the Kanana Fou Theological Seminary in American Samoa replace essential school supplies and basic furnishings they lost to wind and water damage from powerful Cyclone Gita in February.


Texas and Louisiana - UCC Response - Hurricane Harvey

Visit this page regularly for the latest on UCC Disaster Ministries' response following Hurricane Harvey.

How You Can Help

Below is a summary of the ways you can help. Click on the links for more information.

The response and rebuilding will be long term. Your generous contribution now makes this long-term response possible and get help quickly to where it's most needed. UCC churches are taking special offerings and holding fundraising events to raise cash for Harvey recovery.

From the Southwest Conference Office: We will list gifts sent to the conference by congregations which have been designated "Harvey" on congregational giving statements the same way we designate the 7 for 7 special offerings. These contributions will be forwarded to the UCC Disaster Ministries for Harvey relief effort. Individuals are encouraged to donate to the Harvey relief effort through their local congregation.

Sign up to receive word as soon as work sites open in Harvey-affected areas. The UCC will be a strong presence on the ground in the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey in the months and years to come. In the meantime, why not send a work team to help Hurricane Matthew survivors in Volusia County, FL, or flood survivors near Baton Rouge, LA?

UCC Disaster Ministries has $250 matching grants available to UCC congregations that assemble CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets, basic supplies to help Harvey survivors return home. Download this form [PDF] and learn where to send funds for kits, or take it with you to the store to pick up supplies to make your own.

Make copies for your congregation!

Getting it Right: Responding to Hurricane Harvey

Harvey and subsequent hurricanes have raised people's awareness of the importance of preparing our families, congregations and communities for disaster.
UCC Disaster Ministries published this new, free Disaster Preparedness Guide.

PRAY [Link]
Here are some liturgical resources developed for use after a disaster.

Visit the UCC Disaster Ministries Site [Link]

By the Numbers:

  • Category 4 hurricane at landfall (first since 2004)

  • 130 mph winds

  • 8 million people within area of impact

  • 786,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders

  • Nearly 200,000 without power

  • More than 50 inches of rain in some areas and it's still raining

  • 42,000 currently in shelters as evacuations, search and rescue continue

  • 500,000 homes estimated to be affected

  • 250,000 FEMA registrations so far; expecting 882,000

  • Media reporting up to 30 storm-related fatalities

  • 73 oil/HAZMAT incidents reported