"The main focus is still accounting for everybody; rescue is the first priority now" said one West Virginia pastor on Monday during a conversation with Week of Compassion staff. When over 10 inches of rain fell in a very brief period, rivers and streams breached their banks and deadly flash flooding created a state of emergency in 44 counties. Now, as residents and assessment crews are able to survey the damage, the true scope of the disaster is becoming evident. In Kanawha county alone, almost 1000 homes were affected, of which approximately 400 have been destroyed, according to preliminary reports.
Within 24 hours of the flooding, Week of Compassion was in contact with the West Virginia Regional staff, offering prayers and solidarity along with financial support. "I am grateful for the ways Revs. Allen and Chafin were prepared to respond to this disaster," says Associate Director, Rev. Caroline Hamilton-Arnold. "By the time we spoke, they were already making contact with local pastors and utilizing their connections with the West Virginia VOAD" (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster - a disaster response network with regional, state, and national chapters). These connections, through both local churches and ecumenical partnerships, position Disciples to help identify and meet the needs of our neighbors.
While none of the Disciples churches are aware of congregants who were directly affected, for the churches in the flood zones, everyone knows someone. Disciples congregations are offering support by providing cleaning supplies, water, and helping hands. Friends, relatives, and neighbors have lost their homes and possessions. Communities are grieving for these losses as well as for the 23 individuals who died in the floods, yet the people of West Virginia are resilient and are looking toward rebuilding. Week of Compassion will continue to offer support every step of the way.
A Reminder to Stay, Pray, and Give
STAY: The waiting is hard, when your impulse is to GO and HELP, but do not self-deploy to flood areas. First of all, for your own safety! Secondly, the local communities are not yet prepared to receive many volunteers. Register as an interested volunteer through Volunteer WV.
PRAY: Be present through God's Spirit, which knits us all together. Pray for those affected and for the emergency personnel who are responding. Pray for their safety. Pray for the generosity of those who will donate time and resources. Pray for peace for those who are anxious, scared, and unsure of their future after experiencing this disaster. Pray that individuals who often get overlooked have access to assistance.
GIVE: Take action by donating money. It is perhaps not as satisfying as buying a bucket and some bleach, but money does the most good! Cash donations are efficient and effective.
Prayer for Istanbul
Holy One, once again we are left without words: shocked by the images that pass on our screens and heartbroken for the people of Istanbul. By your Spirit may our groans and sighs be prayers for a world where no more of your beloveds are terrorized by hatred and violence. May our tears become like the waters of baptism, where death gives way to new life. Make us to tremble with the uncontainable power of love instead of with the anemic power of fear. Surround the people of Istanbul with your comfort, and stir within all of us a vision of your peace. Amen.
Our Global Responses Since June 22nd, 2016
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