Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Hurricane Maria


October 11, 2017web-statement-badge-1

Episcopal Relief & Development Continues to Provide Emergency Assistance to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to provide emergency assistance to the US and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico following the devastating impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

In partnership with Convoy of Hope and the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands, Episcopal Relief & Development is supplying food for approximately 900 preschool aged children, hot meals for 1,500 residents and distributing food and water in Tortola and Virgin Gorda. In addition to a generator, Episcopal Relief & Development is providing mosquito nets and cash for vouchers to the diocese as the organization continues to coordinate between key distribution points.

The Virgin Islands are slowly recovering from the storms. Reports indicate that approximately  22% of the homes and businesses throughout the islands currently have electricity. Electrical systems are being rebuilt with new utility poles, power lines and street lights installed. Water and cell phone service are still extremely limited.

In Puerto Rico, the crisis continues. Forty-five deaths have been reported. Almost 90% of the island is still without power. Episcopal Relief & Development is working with the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico to coordinate and deliver food, fuel and other emergency supplies with church officials. Satellite cell phones are provided to enable communication between the diocese, church partners, emergency services and communities. Volunteers are organizing shipments of water and food to residents of Maricao and Ponce and other remote areas. The organization is planning on supplying water purification systems to isolated communities. Xavier Castellanos, a representative from Episcopal Relief & Development, is helping the diocese mobilize church partners as they continue assessments and coordinate the next phase of the response. Emergency support was sent in advance of Hurricane Maria in order to help the diocese provide assistance quickly.

Residents living in more remote areas including the northern part of Puerto Rico have no running water and are drinking contaminated water from nearby rivers. On the southeast part of the island, miles of farmland have been leveled by the storms. Roads are littered with electrical poles and cables which must be removed before the island’s power grid is restored.

“The lives of so many people have been turned upside down,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice of Programs. “This is a humanitarian crisis that will affect many people in the years to come.”

Contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Relief Fund will help support church and other local partners as they provide critical emergency assistance to those most in need.

To download bulletin inserts and other Hurricane Irma resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/hurricanes2017.


September 29, 2017web-statement-badge-1
 

Episcopal Relief & Development Provides Emergency Assistance to the British Virgin Islands after the Hurricanes

Episcopal Relief & Development is providing critical emergency supplies to the British Virgin Islands in collaboration with Convoy of Hope and the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands following the devastating impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Convoy of Hope is a faith-based humanitarian organization located in Missouri. The Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands is present on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John in the US Virgin Islands and Tortola and Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.

Critical supplies, including food, two portable kitchens, two refrigeration containers, 350,000 gallons of drinking water, 9,900 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel, tarps, plywood and nails as well as hygiene and infant care kits, arrived in Tortola on September 28th. Clergy and lay leaders of the diocese collaborated with Convoy of Hope staff to gather and allocate supplies and ensure that necessary items were shared with vulnerable families with the greatest needs.  

“Distributions continue being coordinated with our church partners,” noted Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President for Programs. “The damage is catastrophic throughout the Virgin Islands and people are greatly in need of the most basic necessities. Getting supplies to people on Tortola and Virgin Gorda has been a particular challenge and working with Convoy of Hope together with the Episcopal leadership has been a blessing.”

Many residents are still without electricity, running water and telephone service, leaving them isolated after both hurricanes devastated the Virgin Islands. Homes, hospitals and other buildings were destroyed, roads damaged beyond repair, trees uprooted, and essential services wiped out by the ferocity of these storms. After Hurricane Irma made landfall in early September, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working closely with the Diocese of the Virgin Islands to provide immediate assistance where the Church has a presence. The islands rely heavily on tourism and with restaurants, docks and resorts destroyed, the path to recovery is expected to be a long one.

“Through our partnerships with the diocese and Convoy of Hope, we are offering emergency support to communities that have lost almost everything,” Nelson said. “There’s so much more work that needs to be done, and we are deeply committed to accompanying our partners on the long road ahead.”

Contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Relief Fund will help support church and other local partners as they provide critical emergency assistance to those most in need.

To download bulletin inserts and other Hurricane Irma resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/hurricanes2017.


September 27, 2017web-statement-badge-1
 

Responding to the Ongoing Crisis in Puerto Rico after the Storms

Millions of people in Puerto Rico are still without power, communications networks, running water and fuel following Hurricane Maria which hit the island on September 20th.

Neighborhoods are in ruins and roads washed away. Food and water are not widely available and many are still awaiting emergency assistance. Airport restrictions have made it difficult to move critical food, materials and personnel onto the island. Recent reports note that badly damaged ports are preventing ships from docking and unloading emergency items.

A public health emergency has been declared in Puerto Rico, with only 11 of the island’s 69 hospitals operating with limited medical supplies. There are concerns that the warm climate combined with flooding could lead to an increase in mosquito-borne diseases, such as the Zika virus and dengue.

Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico to provide urgently needed food, water and medicine. In advance of Hurricane Maria, the organization sent emergency support, ensuring that the diocese’s relief and pastoral teams are equipped to offer assistance as quickly as possible. Local authorities in Puerto Rico have delayed the distribution of supplies.

“Communications are extremely difficult and the circumstances are chaotic,” noted Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “We expect to receive approval shortly so that our church partners can move forward with relief efforts and caring for vulnerable communities.”

An Episcopal Relief & Development representative, Xavier Castellanos, will be traveling to Puerto Rico on Monday, October 2nd and staying for at least 10 days. He brings extensive experience in the management of critical incidents and emergencies in a variety of countries including Haiti and Colombia. He will interface regularly with the US Disaster team. Castellanos will support the diocesan staff which is coordinating the distribution of supplies and he will assist in conducting assessments and property damage and strategizing the next phase of the response. He will provide satellite phones and the accompanying equipment to help facilitate communication between the diocese and local churches and networks.

“These are distressing times and we ask for your prayers,” said Nelson. “We will  continue to support our church partners in Puerto Rico as they respond to enormous needs.”

A message from Bishop Rafael Morales Maldonado to the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria (in Spanish):

 

Contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development's Hurricane Relief Fund will help support church and other local partners as they provide critical emergency assistance to those most in need after the hurricanes.

For the most recent bulletin inserts and other hurricane resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/hurricanes2017.

Prayer in a Time of Disaster

Loving and compassionate God, you are our comfort and strength in times of sudden disaster, crisis, or chaos. Surround us now, O Lord, with your grace and peace through storm or winds, fires or floods. By your Spirit, lift up those who have fallen, sustain those who work to rescue or rebuild, and fill us with the hope of your new creation; through Christ, our rock and redeemer. Amen.


September 21, 2017

web-statement-badge-1

Preparing to Respond after Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are Devastated by Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria, the second major storm of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season to strike the Caribbean, cut a devastating swath through the islands of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and Haiti as it moved past the Turks and Caicos and on to Bermuda this week. At least 25 deaths have been reported with damage estimated at $45 billion.

Two days after the hurricane hit the island of Puerto Rico, search and rescue efforts are still underway. The entire island remains without power, leaving its 3.4 million residents without electricity and water. Hundreds of people have been rescued from floodwaters. Roofs were ripped from buildings, cell phone towers knocked down and trees uprooted while catastrophic flooding continues around the island.

This Category 4 storm made landfall on Wednesday morning, causing heavy rains and winds, which in turn, resulted in massive flooding and mudslides. Rain is expected to continue through early next week, saturating already waterlogged soil with a great potential for mudslides. Many communities in smaller towns have been destroyed. Relatives and friends living on the mainland and in Puerto Rico are searching for news of loved ones.

“The devastation throughout the Caribbean is heartbreaking,” noted Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “We continue to reach out to the Episcopal Dioceses of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands but communications challenges persist. We sent support to both dioceses ahead of Hurricane Maria and we will continue to accompany them in responding to short and long-term needs in their communities.”

Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have been declared disaster areas. Extensive damage from both hurricanes has devastated most of the Virgin Islands with electricity and cell phone service knocked out, homes destroyed, with radio stations down and many roads rendered impassable. Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting relief efforts with the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands and the Convoy of Hope to deliver critical water and other necessities to the islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda following Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma heavily damaged the islands of Culebra and Vieques in Puerto Rico. Episcopal Relief & Development, in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico, is providing approximately 600 people on these two islands with temporary housing, medical care, food and meal delivery, clothing, home repairs, water and first aid supplies.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti were also hit by Hurricanes Maria and Irma, resulting in damage to homes, roads and agriculture. So far, the US and Caribbean have been impacted by four strong storms in this 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season.

“Please pray for people impacted by these life-threatening storms,” Nelson said. “There is a long road to recovery ahead for everyone.”

Contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Relief Fund will help support church and other local partners as they provide critical emergency assistance to those most in need in the weeks and months ahead.

For the most recent bulletin inserts and other hurricane resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/hurricanes2017.

Prayer to Lift Up Those Who Have Fallen

Holy One, you are our comfort and strength in times of sudden disaster, crisis, or chaos. Surround us now with your grace and peace through storm or earthquake, fire or flood. By your Spirit, lift up those who have fallen, sustain those who work to rescue or rebuild, and fill us with the hope of your new creation; through You, our rock and redeemer.

— Author Unknown, from Xavier University's website


September 20, 2017

Episcopal Relief & Development Web StatementEpiscopal Relief & Development Supports Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as Hurricane Maria Strikes

As Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday, September 20 in Puerto Rico after pummeling the already devastated Virgin Islands earlier in the day, Episcopal Relief & Development continues to partner with the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico to assess urgent needs while maintaining support for the islands of Culebra and Vieques.

The organization is supporting relief efforts with the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands and the Convoy of Hope to deliver critical water and other necessities to two of the most devastated islands following Hurricane Irma. Emergency support was sent to church partners in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to help purchase supplies in advance of Hurricane Maria.

Parts of the British and US Virgin Islands, already decimated by the ferocity of Hurricane Irma, braced themselves as Maria hit on Wednesday with 8 to16 inches of rain and hurricane force winds. The full impact of the storm is still unknown.

As a direct response to the impact of Hurricane Irma, Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Diocese of the Virgin Islands and the Convoy of Hope, a faith-based humanitarian organization located in Missouri, to ship critical emergency supplies to residents of the islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda. The approach of Hurricane Maria and a curfew on the islands forced the ship to move offshore.The shipment includes food, two portable kitchens, two refrigeration containers, 350,000 gallons of drinking water, 9,900 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel, tarps, plywood and nails as well as hygiene and infant care kits. The remainder of the supplies will be unloaded and distributed once the storm passes.

“These islands are among the most impacted by Hurricane Irma,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “We’re very concerned about vulnerable people, especially the older population and families with small children.”

Hurricane Maria moved away from the Virgin Islands and made landfall in Puerto Rico late Wednesday morning, battering the island with 155 mph winds that removed roofs from homes and ripped trees out of the ground. Storm surges are expected to reach six to nine feet with up to 25 inches of rain predicted in some areas. According to the National Hurricane Center, life-threatening flash floods, mudslides and tornadoes remain an issue. Hurricane Maria may be the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since a 1928 storm claimed more than 300 lives.

Downgraded to a powerful Category 4  storm, Hurricane Maria has forced thousands of people to seek shelter particularly those living in low-lying flood prone areas. It follows Hurricane Irma which hit two weeks ago, causing widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and other islands that are expected to last several months. Presently, the entire island of Puerto Rico is reported to be without power.

“Power outages are a great concern throughout the Caribbean,” noted Nelson. “They directly impact lives and the economy, affecting the most basic needs for refrigeration and electricity in homes to presenting major challenges for hospitals and businesses in the coming months.”

Culebra and Vieques, two islands in Puerto Rico which have experienced substantial damage from Hurricane Irma, were in the path of Hurricane Maria. Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting emergency relief efforts on these two islands by providing approximately 600 people with temporary housing, medical care, food and meal delivery, clothing, home repairs, water and first aid supplies.

“Right now, our church partners are sheltering in,” Nelson said. “We will be able to assess the impact of Hurricane Maria once the storm passes. Please continue to pray for those affected by both hurricanes. ”

Contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Relief Fund will help support church and other local partners as they provide critical emergency assistance to those most in need in the weeks and months ahead.

For the most recent bulletin inserts and other hurricane resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/hurricanes2017.

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as a compassionate response to human suffering in the world. The agency works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters.


  

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesMake cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable  Learn more »

Resources & Learning

Click below to access our Resource Library and learn more about our efforts around the world.

Resources & Learning