Domestic Disaster Response & Preparedness
Photo: Craig Thompson, Disciple Design
In early September, 2017 Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, wreaked havoc across the Caribbean, including the US Territory of Puerto Rico. Just 2 weeks later, another Category 5 storm, Hurricane Maria made a direct hit on the main island of Puerto Rico. The two storms demolished much of the infrastructure on the island, leaving nearly the entire population without access to power or clean water. Additionally, the storms destroyed several hundred thousand homes and caused thousands of deaths.
The commonwealth has a population of nearly 3.4 million people, but for several years has been experiencing dramatic migration away from the island, due in large part to a prolonged economic crisis. The hurricanes led to a mass exodus from the island, to the US Mainland.
How Disciples are Involved:
Local Partners: Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) en Puerto Rico, Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, AMANESER 2025, New York Disaster Interfaith Services
In collaboration with the Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) en Puerto Rico, Week of Compassion and several other general ministries, including Disciples Home Missions, Global Ministries, Pension Fund, and Disciples Church Extension Fund provided funds and material support for early relief. In addition to cash grants, we helped secure generators, water filters and canisters, food and hygiene packets, tarps and other emergency supplies for distribution through the 106 Disciples congregations. Week of Compassion, Disciples Home Missions, and Global Ministries staff provided consultation and helped local Disciples network with ecumenical partners, FEMA, and other disaster response organizations.
Week of Compassion has supported the launch of a recovery program through the Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) called Programa Edifiquemos. Using a mix of volunteer and contract labor, Programa Edifiquemos focuses on home repairs for the most vulnerable. In addition to financial support for the program, we are working in collaboration with Disciples Volunteering and Global Ministries to coordinate “volunteer ambassador teams.”
The Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, a Global Ministries partner, sustained damage to their campus and saw a decrease in tuition income as students cut back on their course loads to deal with recovery in their families, churches, and communities. We provided grant assistance in collaboration with the other member denominations.
Another partner through Global Ministries, AMANESER 2025, works with communities for energy independence through a community organizing model, promoting resilience for future disasters. Week of Compassion is providing grant funding for training and materials.
In the US Mainland, we are supporting the work of New York Disaster Interfaith Services, as they provide assistance for long-term evacuees from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
How to Help:
Give to Week of Compassion: Designate “US Storms--Puerto Rico Hurricane Recovery”
Pray: Continue to pray for the people of Puerto Rico, our Week of Compassion partners, and the volunteer ambassador teams as they work to restore affected communities.
Advocate: Much of the recovery on the island will rely on the restoration of infrastructure and improvement of the economic situation in Puerto Rico. Advocate for sufficient funding for federal recovery projects, equitable distribution of recovery funds to serve vulnerable populations, and ongoing trade and tax policies that will strengthen the Puerto Rican economy.
Watch our social media feed for photos, stories, and updates about this recovery.