Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
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.
Reports are still coming in as churches assess damage and identify ways to serve their communities, to answer immediate needs, and to begin preparing for what will certainly be an extensive and long-term recovery.
Housed at First Christian Church of Daytona, Volusia Interfaiths Networking in Disaster (VIND) was a Week of Compassion partner after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. They are preparing to process cases again, first for cleanup and later for support through recovery and repair.
Week of Compassion has been able to offer support for churches and individuals, and for Disciples who are assisting in their community’s response. To date, we have provided solidarity grants for 15 Disciples households, four churches with damage, and five Disciples churches supporting relief efforts.
Unity Christian Church in Fort Myers experienced the most dramatic impact among our connections, contending with significant damage to their roof and water damage in the administration building. Multiple other congregations also sustained damage from wind and flooding.
Fort Myers Christian Church is working closely with the Gladiolus Food Pantry - a regular partner of their ministry, which includes a 20-bed community garden that provides produce for the pantry and amazingly survived! Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) del Norte suffered a flooded building, and continues to provide food assistance through their Manna Ministry food pantry. ICDC de Miami is working to get supplies to immigrant communities in central Florida. Disciples from across the Florida region are connecting with congregations in affected areas to provide supplies, volunteers, and prayers.
While attention is very focused on Ian’s devastating impact on Florida, at the same time, Week of Compassion continues to respond to Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico alongside Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo), and to Hurricane Ian-related needs in Cuba through our partners in ACT Alliance.
With support from Week of Compassion, ICDCPR assisted more than 100 families whose homes were damaged—including assisting with cleanup and helping them get necessary supplies. Iglesia Cristiana in Cayey is helping nearly two dozen households in their local neighborhood, including at least eight who lost everything. Alongside the direct assistance for these families, the church is providing hot meals for the community.
As needs continue to unfold, Disciples will continue to respond. Week of Compassion is grateful for all who Pray+Give+Stay in these unfathomable and difficult moments. Anyone interested in volunteering when the time is right can complete our Volunteer Interest Form to be notified of volunteer opportunities through the months and years of recovery ahead.
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