Disaster Ministries Update from Puerto Rico

Report from Phil Shea, SWC Disaster Coordinator, 11 April 2019

It was my privilege last week to represent the SWC in Puerto Rico at the annual meeting of Conference Disaster Coordinators and the UCC Disaster Ministries staff (see photo to right). Meeting in Puerto Rico was an opportunity to experience the beauty of the country and its people while also learning about the work the UCC and its local partners are doing to rebuild a country ravaged by back to back hurricanes. The UCC continues to send money and work teams to this country. $1.5 already invested and another $1 million anticipated over the next 1-2 years.

As we watch the “politics” play out in the media, UCC Disaster Ministries steadfastly continues the work of rebuilding in Puerto Rico. 37,000 homes still have blue tarps for a roof (see photo below). Those tarps continue to deteriorate under the sun as the next hurricane season approaches. While the UCC has done a wide variety of work in Puerto Rico with various partners, one of our key partners has been the Iglesia Evangelica Unida of Puerto Rico. They have already repaired 100 homes and now they have established the goal of repairing another 150 homes all over the island. Along with roof and other repairs they are developing a sustainability model. This includes equipping the repaired homes with water filters and solar lamps. Local church leaders are also establishing locations where chainsaws and other equipment and supplies are being stored in local communities to help speed the response to future hurricanes and storms. They are also doing leadership development in local communities.

UCC Disaster ministries continues it work around the United States along the east coast, the south and Texas and the Midwest. Our UCC Solidarity Grants have helped churches in Iowa. In one town three local churches are still serving 300 meals a day.

Southwest Conference churches can continue to support recovery by sending financial support to UCC Disaster Ministries or by organizing work teams to go to the affected areas for 1 or 2 weeks of rebuilding work.

DONATE (if you want designate your donation to a specific disaster area just specify on your donation) : http://www.ucc.org/donate_to_disaster_relief

WORK TEAMS: I am available to assist you to coordinate a Work Team to help with rebuilding efforts in at a specific location. Please contact me for assistance at philofthedesert@yahoo.com or 602-663-5065.  Depending on the cost to travel to the location, one week of service will cost approximately $400 -$800 per person for one week of service. http://www.ucc.org/disaster_disaster-volunteers