The past twelve months have been very challenging for communities served by the UCC Disaster Ministries. Hurricanes. Floods. Fires. Tornados. Some suggest that due to climate change and other factors this is the “new norm”. The danger in that thinking is to become complacent. Our Disaster Ministries staff and volunteers have not been complacent but actively engaged in our communities. Below are some updates from California to the Virgin Islands. On behalf of our whole Disaster Ministries Team across the country I encourage you and your congregation to consider supporting our efforts (in fact, making them your efforts as well) in one or more of the following ways. NOTE: Housing for workers at all our volunteer sites is always provided (you can assume it will be “rustic”). As always you can contact Phil Shea at firstname.lastname@example.org (602-663-5065) or the SWC Office to get involved or ask for more information.
· 60 matching GRANTS ($ 250) still available to build or donate Church World Service Kits and Clean-up Buckets
· Make an Undesignated Donation to UCC Disaster Ministries (you can designate your donation, however, we are asking for undesignated because we have projects where our continuing work is not supported by designated giving or the designated giving has been exhausted; a non-designated gift gives more flexibility to our national staff to respond to the most urgent needs at a given time)
Disaster Ministries Updates
· Wildfires in California
While these fires have been huge they mostly are burning in rural areas. Saying this is not meant to minimize the loss of lives and homes that has ensued. The fire near Redding is mostly contained. We do have a UCC congregation there and they have reached out to their community. Currently, they do not have any expressed needs for assistance.
· Flooding in Pennsylvania
The State Emergency Operation Center has opened and our UCC Disaster Ministries Coordinator there is helping staff the center on behalf of one of our national partner organizations, Voluntary Organizations Activating in Disaster (VOAD). He will help coordinate volunteer organization responses. Also, UCC Disaster Ministries is sending our Tools and Recovery Trailer to their location.
We just received a $ 100,000 grant from the United Methodists and together with that grant UCC will spend approximately $ 350,000 toward recovery there. Our focus has been on affordable and rental housing affected by the hurricane and pre-hurricane by economic injustice.
Most our work has been in Volusia County. We have completed restoration of 28 homes and another 70 are ready for VOLUNTEERS to help. UCC is funding another year of disaster recovery/construction supervisors.
· Puerto Rico
We have completed 27 homes (repair and roofing). There are still 95 cases in our client base and we are not taking anymore. We will spend $ 1,000,000 there and they also need VOLUNTEER TEAMS.
· Virgin Islands
In desperate need of VOLUNTEER Teams. We are working with FEMA on what is called “Invitational Travel”. If that happens, travel to the Virgin Islands to work will be paid for.