Hurricanes Harvey and Irma
Response and Resources
A Message from Phil Shea, Conference Disaster Coordinator
From the perspective of the volume of rain unloaded in the United States from a single storm, Harvey has no rival. The numbers of people impacted continues to rise with current estimates of nearly 500,000 homes affected. FEMA already has 250,000 registrations and is estimating it will get 882,000 or more. On this day, search and rescue continues. The United Church of Christ is there NOW through local churches, UCC conference disaster coordinators, and as a strong part of coordinated response networks with wide reach. The UCC will be there for the long term with significant work as people recover their communities and rebuild their homes and lives. One UCC congregation has been significantly impacted. We will provide more information about who they are and their needs once they are able to access their church and community and advise us of how we can best help. Continue praying for the victims and all those affected by the hurricane as well as their families. Pray also for the first-responders and the volunteers who are beginning to respond.
The information below provides updates and access to all the sites and applications needed for you to donate, prepare and send Clean-up and Hygiene Kits and volunteer to serve on work teams to aid in the long-term recovery. It will include information that is specific to our SWC response and resources that will help in our response.
The Retirement Housing Foundation is matching donations to UCC Disaster Ministries Harvey response up to $50,000. Give before September 30 so that the full $50,000 match can be utilized for a total of $100,000. The link is copied below.
Along with prayer and making donations through the UCC Hurricane Harvey site (https://transactions.ucc.org/CampaignForm/UCChrist/Hurricane+Harvey+relief ) our current response is focused on providing Clean-up and Hygiene Kits. You are encouraged to make a donation, hold fundraisers or directly build kits and send them to to Church Worldwide Services (CWS), one of our disaster partners.
For those of you who will be building kits, please contact Phil Shea, our Conference Disaster Coordinator (see below). He will assist you with any issues you have with your kits. For instance, the challenges of shipping the kits to the CWS depot.
Phil Shea is our Conference Disaster Coordinator. If you have questions, need assistance preparing and shipping your kits or want to volunteer please contact him directly and not the conference office. Phil has the most current information and is working directly with our UCC Disaster Ministries Executive as well as other disaster organizations with whom we are partnered. He provides disaster updates and guidance to our conference office. Call or email Phil and he will respond in a timely manner (602-663-5065, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please see the updates below on UCC Disaster Ministries’ efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We are starting to hear from some of our conference churches and members about how they are planning to help with Hurricane Harvey recovery. Next week we will share some examples and creative ways people are offering to help. We encourage you to donate to UCC Disaster Ministries through your congregation or directly at https://transactions.ucc.org/CampaignForm/UCChrist/emergency_usa .
The Category 4 hurricane in Texas, followed by flooding that brought raging water halfway up their front doors, didn't wash out a small congregation 25 miles northwest of Houston for long. Christ United UCC in Cypress returned to their fellowship hall for worship on Sunday. "If you look past the water, you see God's hands at work doing marvelous things in people's hearts – wonderful," Christ United Pastor the Rev. Jeffrey Willey told his congregation on Sept. 10. UCC Disaster Ministries delivered 200 clean-up buckets to St. Paul UCC in Corpus Christi for distribution in Port Aransas along with a $ 2000 Solidarity Grant to supply food for the St. Paul UCC food pantry.
UCC Disaster Ministries has just contributed $10,000 toward a proactive program to prevent cholera and malnutrition in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Irma, and to treat any instances that occur. The implementing partner is IMA World Health, which has had a significant presence in Haiti since 1998, including relationships with government and communities. United Church of Disaster Ministries teams are reaching out to pastors and congregations across the entire peninsula of South Florida, as all involved try to assess the damage left behind by Hurricane Irma. "Our denomination helps those nobody else is going to help. That process takes time to identify," said the Rev. Alan Coe, UCC Florida Conference disaster coordinator.
How You Can Help
Below is a summary of the ways you can help. Click on the links for more information.
DONATE MONEY [Link]
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?
DONATE EMERGENCY CLEAN-UP BUCKETS AND HYGIENE KITS [Link]
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.
DOWNLOADABLE BULLETIN INSERT [Link]
Make copies for your congregation!
PUBLIC WITNESS STATEMENT FROM UCC NATIONAL OFFICERS [Link]
Getting it Right: Responding to Hurricane Harvey
THIS IS A TEACHABLE MOMENT ON DISASTER PREPAREDNESS [Link]
Harvey has raised people's awareness of the importance of preparing our families, congregations and communities for disaster. In addition, September is National Preparedness Month! UCC Disaster Ministries just published this new, free Disaster Preparedness Guide.
Here are some liturgical resources developed for use after a disaster.
Visit the UCC Disaster Ministries Site
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