Domestic Disaster Response & Preparedness
Photo: Craig Thompson, Disciple Design
Hurricanes Laura and Delta, Louisiana
Tropical Storm Imelda, Texas
Flooding, Oklahoma and Midwest US
Hurricane Michael, Florida
Hurricane Florence, North Carolina*
Carr Fire and Camp Fire, California
Hurricanes Irma & Maria, Puerto Rico
Hurricane Irma, Florida*
Hurricane Harvey, Texas
*limited volunteer opportunities available, with COVID-19 precautions
Event Summary: From late December 2019 through January 2020, the southwest part of Puerto Rico experienced a series of earthquakes of varying strength and severity. Among the most damaging were a 4.7 quake on Dec. 28, a 6.4 shock on Jan. 7, and a 5.2 quake on Jan. 15, with many, smaller tremors between. The quakes damaged hundreds of structures, including several schools, and thousands of people evacuated their homes, uncertain of the safety of the buildings (roughly 6,000 individuals were in official and unofficial shelters/encampments as of Jan 21). The tremors damaged a power plant and portions of the electrical grid, causing power outages--some prolonged--across much of the island. Given the continued aftershocks and the recent trauma of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health are of great concern.
How Disciples are Involved:
Local Contacts: Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) en Puerto Rico, especially local congregations in Ponce and Guayanilla; Puerto Rico VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster); Brethren Disaster Ministries/Children's Disaster Services
Early Response: Disciples in Puerto Rico coordinated collection and distribution of needed supplies through the Centro Cristiano, meeting needs identified at the local congregations in Ponce and Guayanilla. The church in Ponce regularly fed several hundred individuals, including evacuees and responders. They have also been attending to physical and mental, emotional, and spiritual health of their neighbors. The church in Guayanilla provided shelter for more than 3 dozen evacuees. Disciples have coordinated with mental health professionals and chaplains to provide immediate care for those traumatized by the quakes. We are in conversation with local Disciples and our partners at Children's Disaster Services about how to support children who are out of school because of damage to school buildings.
Ongoing Engagement: We will continue to support the efforts of Disciples in Puerto Rico, including providing training for pastors to recognize and help address psychological and emotional responses to trauma. We are also in conversation with partners through PR VOAD about addressing long-term needs.
How to Help:
Volunteer: Stay tuned for details about volunteer opportunities, or register a volunteer ambassador group through the Programa Edifiquemos to continue supporting hurricane recovery as other resources shift to earthquake response.
Give to Week of Compassion: Designate “Earthquakes”
Pray: Continue to pray for those affected by the earthquakes and for our Week of Compassion partners.
Advocate: Call for sufficient and timely resources from the Commonwealth and Federal Governments.
Watch our social media feed for photos, stories, and updates about this recovery.