In December of 2017, Marie (named changed for privacy) moved back into her home in Bertie County, North Carolina, just in time for Christmas. Over a year before, in October of 2016, 5 feet of water filled her home during flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew. Since that storm, many others have filled the headlines and captured our hearts and attention, most notably Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which caused such extraordinary damage last fall.
Now, the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season is upon us. In fact, before the official start of the season on June 1, the first named storm of year, Subtropical Storm Alberto, formed in the Gulf of Mexico and doused the Southeast with heavy rain. High winds and high water caused damage from Alabama through Virginia.
In western North Carolina, a creek swollen by rains from Alberto washed out a road at Christmount Retreat, Camp, and Conference Center, potentially putting at-risk the busy summer camping season so important to youth and adult faith formation. As the summer camp schedule begins, Christmount will be able to make necessary repairs, with support from Week of Compassion. "Talk about fast, and on the ball," said Rob Morris, Executive Director at Christmount. "When the wind and rain washed our road away, Week of Compassion called the very next day. Now we're back up and running... thanks for the work you do."
Season after season, storms come, causing damage and disrupting lives. And storm after storm, Week of Compassion is there to provide support, assistance, and hope. Even as new seasons bring new storms, we walk with and work alongside communities in the process of recovery, not just in the immediate aftermath, but for months to come.
On the other side of the state, in Cumberland and Robeson Counties, as well as in Bertie County, recovery continues from Hurricane Matthew. Week of Compassion has helped enable community organizations to provide furniture to families moving back into their homes, to host recovery fairs where survivors can learn about available resources, and to facilitate home repairs.
Recovery continues, as well, in Volusia County, Florida, where many residents sustained damage both during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma last fall. Volusia Interfaiths Networking in Disaster (VIND), which is housed at First Christian Church, Daytona, has helped dozens of homeowners move back into homes that are more resilient for future storms. "Homes are ready for repairs. We need more volunteers!" says the staff of VIND (click here for volunteer information).
Volunteers can also make an impact in Southeast Texas, where Hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding. First Christian Church, Texas City is serving as a mission station with Disciples Volunteering. Texas City is part of Galveston County, an area where already vulnerable communities--with above average rates of poverty and aging populations--experienced devastating flooding. A local pastor and leader in the recovery describes the situation as a compelling story of need, but also one of great hope, as people have been reaching out to serve their neighbors. (click here for mission station information).
In Puerto Rico, where the damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria is still extreme, and where electricity is still unreliable nine months after the storms, the congregations of the Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) are combining recovery efforts with disaster preparedness. Last month, a group of Disciple pastors began designing and implementing a disaster communication network, which will connect congregations across the island in the event of an emergency. Additionally, as a program of home repairs is getting underway, additional investments in stronger materials and resilient building techniques will make homes safer in future storms.
Thank you for your faithful partnership and generous gifts, from season to season, storm upon storm, year after year.
Prepare Yourself For the Next Storm
From hurricanes to earthquakes to tornadoes, disasters can happen anywhere. If you are prepared before a disaster, you are more likely to be in a position to help after.
Find resources to prepare for hurricanes and all kinds of disasters at Ready.
Encourage your church to be prepared, too!
Emergency Management in Georgia has compiled a great set of resources for congregations called Praise and Preparedness.
The book, Help and Hope: Disaster Preparedness Response Tools for Congregations, edited by Amy Gopp and Brandon Gilvin is also a great resource for congregational preparedness. Available through Chalice Press: