Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
Culture Brokers & Disaster Response
long-term hurricane response & the First Peoples Conservation Council
On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall over Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes in coastal Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour and peak gusts as high as 172 mph. Tied for the title of the strongest storm to strike Louisiana, Ida brought catastrophic damage to the Indigenous Nations of the First Peoples Conservation Council -- demolishing homes, uprooting and toppling trees, and leaving the vast majority of families in its path in need of temporary and permanent housing assistance.
It also affected Louisiana’s Coastal Tribes by destroying their collective gathering spaces, important for Tribal governance, rituals, the maintenance of cultural traditions, and the preservation of the French-Choctaw patois dialect (français de la Louisiane) that is unique to these communities and is considered a national treasure. These collective meeting sites are also where Native American residents of these unique Bayou regions come together to develop place-based climate change adaptation strategies that will allow them to continue to live in their ancestral homelands.
Week of Compassion is grateful to partner with the Lowlander Center to support the Indigenous Resilience Disaster Case Management Program (IR-DCMP), which was launched on Sept. 6, 2022, to serve the members of five Tribes hard-hit by Ida in South Louisiana.
The Power of Presence
watching, listening, and praying as relief work
At the end of October in Orlando, faint signs of Hurricane Ian remained: blue tarps on roofs, trees that broke through fences and walls, swamps and lakes with high water, debris that needed to be removed. For the most part, though, the damage was hidden - there were few washed out or blocked roads, most water had receded, and destruction seemed surprisingly minor. But then, there were the stories of the people.
"They brought us hope."
Week of Compassion Board of Stewards meets in Puerto Rico
Last week, at the first in-person meeting since fall 2019, the Board of Stewards and staff of Week of Compassion gathered in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, tending to the business of Week of Compassion while bearing witness to the fruitful partnership with Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) de Puerto Rico, especially in the years since Hurricane Maria, and more recently Hurricane Fiona.
responding to recent storms and looking toward the future
In late September, Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico, ravaging communities and systems still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria five years ago, then later had additional impacts in the eastern provinces of Canada. Only a few days later, Hurricane Ian swept across Cuba, into the central coast of Florida, moving across the state and into Atlantic seaboard communities.
From the first forecasts and predicted paths, to the immediate and emergent response needs, to the creation and implementation of partnership plans for long-term recovery and restoration, Disciples are there.
Hurricane Response Update
response stories, volunteer opportunities, and worship resources
As it made landfall in Florida on Wednesday September 28, the center of Hurricane Ian hit the Fort Myers/Sanibel Island area with the fifth-strongest hurricane winds on record, comparable to Hurricanes Ida (2021) and Laura (2020). News reports include close to 100 confirmed fatalities, and several billions of dollars in property loss and damage. (data per NPR news 10/5/22)
Week of Compassion remains in frequent contact with Regional Minister Sandy Messick and with local congregational leaders and ecumenical partners.
updates & responses to recent storms
Hurricane Ian + Hurricane Fiona + Typhoon Noru
Mid-afternoon Wednesday, September 28, HURRICANE IAN made landfall on the central gulf coast of Florida, as a category 4 hurricane, and one of the strongest in the state’s history.
While now at Tropical Storm status, Ian has continued to move across the width of Florida, and is expected to move into the Atlantic Ocean, before making a likely second landfall in the southern Atlantic coast over the next few days.
Hurricane Fiona and Puerto Rico
Two days after Hurricane Fiona (September 18) made landfall in Puerto Rico, updates are beginning to come in, especially from the south and west of the island, with reports of damage to homes, some damage to churches, and many roads still unpassable. Week of Compassion is in conversation with Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) and with Puerto Rico VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) for a coordinated response.
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