Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Hurricane Harvey

Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with dioceses throughout the affected areas in Texas and Louisiana as they assess the ongoing impact of Hurricane Harvey and prepare to respond. Stay updated here.


September 15, 2017web-statement-badge-1
 

Episcopal Relief & Development Coordinates Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts with the Dioceses of Texas and West Texas

Hurricane Harvey, the first major storm of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, devastated tens of thousands of lives when it first made landfall in late August. The storm has caused an estimated $190 billion in property damage in Texas. At least 82 deaths have been reported; thousands of homes have been destroyed or badly damaged.

In addition, road closures, power outages, no running water or unsafe drinking water still exist in some parts of the state. After flood waters receded, many homes, yards and surrounding streets were covered with mold and debris.

In partnership with the Episcopal Dioceses of Texas and West Texas, Episcopal Relief & Development continues to respond to ongoing emergency needs. Katie Mears, Director of the US Disaster Program, returned to Texas this week to arrange for additional support in affected communities and to collaborate with diocesan leaders on mapping out a three-month plan for impacted areas. Episcopal Relief & Development has supported diocesan efforts to offer temporary housing, recruit volunteers to help clean out homes and deploy trained, spiritual care teams to distribute gift cards to help with purchasing food, basic supplies and other necessities.

‎In collaboration with the dioceses, the US Disaster team is also coordinating management and tracking of data relating to Harvey’s impact on local communities and congregations. Mears is supporting Diocesan Disaster Coordinators and members of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Partners in Response team who are assisting diocesan and congregational leaders through the stage of long-term disaster recovery.

“I’m extremely proud of the compassion and support of our dioceses and church partners,” Mears said. “We have a great deal ahead of us within the next several months as we continue to reach out to vulnerable neighbors and help to rebuild their communities.”

Donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund to help Episcopal Relief & Development in responding to critical needs.

For bulletin inserts and other Hurricane Harvey resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/harvey.


September 8, 2017web-statement-badge-1
 

Episcopal Relief & Development's US Disaster Team Visits Affected Areas 

Hurricane Harvey, the first major storm of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, left a path of destruction throughout southeast Texas with at least 70 deaths reported, thousands of homes destroyed, many not covered by flood insurance. The storm caused an estimated $190 billion worth of damage, making it the most costly disaster in US history.

In partnership with the Episcopal Dioceses of Texas and West Texas, Episcopal Relief & Development continues to respond to urgent needs. Katie Mears, Director of the US Disaster Program, traveled to Texas this week to collaborate with church partners to assess damage and needs, check on current relief work and map out a strategy for impacted areas in the dioceses of Texas and West Texas. “There is extensive damage in these areas,” she noted. “I look forward to working with the local dioceses as they support these amazing ministry projects across their dioceses.”

Mears is traveling with Elaine Clements, the Diocesan Disaster Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and a member of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Partner in Response team who will be part of a team assisting diocesan and congregational leaders through the stages of long-term disaster recovery.  

“Partners in Response are a great resource to impacted dioceses. After disasters, diocesan staff need someone to help answer questions, plan next steps, and accompany them through the stages of recovery in their communities,” noted Mears. “Elaine is able to leverage her experience from Hurricane Katrina to assist with disaster response activities and we’re grateful that she can share her knowledge in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.”

Donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund to help Episcopal Relief & Development continue to respond to critical needs during this recovery phase.

For bulletin inserts and other Hurricane Harvey resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/harvey.


September 6, 2017press-release-badge-1

Episcopal Relief & Development Continues to Respond to Needs In Texas after Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey, the first major storm of the 2017 hurricane season, caused heavy rain and catastrophic flooding as it hovered over Houston, Galveston and other parts of Texas and Louisiana in late August. More than 60 deaths have been reported to date. This powerful storm first made landfall on August 25 as a category 4 hurricane with record rainfall. After downgrading to a tropical storm several days later, it devastated cities and towns throughout Texas.

Episcopal Relief & Development is working in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas to provide gift cards to families in impacted communities along the southern Texas Coast. These gift cards will enable people to purchase food, water and basic hygiene products as well as cleaning supplies, power tools and other equipment.

In the Diocese of West Texas, thousands were forced to seek shelter and many have lost their homes. Several areas remain without electricity and a viable infrastructure and with no equipment and resources to clean up in the aftermath of the storm. Buildings have been destroyed with trees and power lines still down. It may take weeks and even months to fully assess the scope of Hurricane Harvey’s damage.

Katie Mears, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Director of the US Disaster Program, is visiting Texas this week to meet with leaders in the Episcopal dioceses of Texas and West Texas to survey and assess the coastal damage while continuing to implement disaster recovery plans and map out most urgent needs throughout the region. Mears is traveling with Deacon Elaine Clements, the Diocesan Disaster Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and a member of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Partner in Response team, who will accompany diocesan and congregational leaders through the stages of long-term recovery.

“One of the strengths of our Church is its ability to identify where the greatest needs are in the community and leverage the strengths of our church partners who are intimately connected with their communities,” noted Mears, who will be in Houston and San Antonio this week.

Episcopal Relief & Development has also partnered with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas to respond to the immediate needs of people throughout the impacted region including Beaumont, Houston, Galveston and other areas. The diocese is providing temporary housing for families, recruiting volunteers to help clean out homes and deploying trained, spiritual care teams to reach out to people in shelters and in impacted communities. These teams are also distributing gift cards to help with purchasing food, basic supplies and other necessities.

“We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us,” noted Mears. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities affected by this devastating storm.”

Donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund to help Episcopal Relief & Development in responding to critical needs.

For bulletin inserts and other Hurricane Harvey resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/harvey

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.

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Photo Credit: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Beaumont, Texas


September 2, 2017web-statement-badge-1

Disaster Response Efforts Target Vulnerable Communities in West Texas

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to provide technical support and emergency assistance following Hurricane Harvey, as diocesan partners assess damage and respond to critical needs in the affected areas.

Now downgraded to a tropical depression, the storm has claimed at least 42 lives, forcing over a million people to evacuate their homes after torrential rain, devastating winds and widespread flooding.

Currently, the US Disaster team is closely coordinating with the Episcopal dioceses of Texas, West Texas and Western Louisiana to provide urgent support. The slow-moving storm devastated coastal communities, leaving them without basic infrastructure. In many of these low-lying areas, there are major power outages and extensive damage to homes and other property.

Episcopal Relief & Development is sending direct support to help the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas provide gift cards to vulnerable individuals and families on the westside of Corpus Christi, four inland communities and three coastal areas including Rockport and Port Aransas. These gift cards will enable people to purchase food, water, basic hygiene products as well as cleaning supplies and power tools.

“Our church partners are deeply focused on providing critical assistance and outreach activities in remotes places,” said Katie Mears, Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “I’m extremely proud of their thoughtful approach to ministry and commitment to respecting people’s dignity as they compassionately respond to this crisis.”

Please continue to pray for impacted communities and contribute to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund to assist local church partners as they respond to urgent needs.

Congregations can use downloadable Bulletin Inserts to raise awareness and support in the aftermath of this major disaster.

 

Please pray for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey

A Prayer for First Responders

Blessed are you, Lord, God of mercy, who through your Son gave us a marvelous example of charity and the great commandment of love for one another. Send down your blessings on these your servants, who so generously devote themselves to helping others. Grant them courage when they are afraid, wisdom when they must make quick decisions, strength when they are weary, and compassion in all their work. When the alarm sounds and they are called to aid both friend and stranger, let them faithfully serve you in their neighbor. We ask this through Christ our Lord. AMEN.

— Adapted from the Book of Blessings, #587, by Diana Macalintal


August 31, 2017press-release-badge-1

Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Hurricane Harvey

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting emergency relief efforts of affected dioceses in Texas following Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Texas coast as a category 4 storm when it made landfall on August 25 and became the largest rainstorm in US history. To date, 30 deaths have been reported, and the storm has caused massive flooding and destruction and forced thousands from their homes.

In partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, Episcopal Relief & Development is responding to the immediate needs of people in the Greater Houston area, including Galveston. With this support, the diocese will provide temporary housing for 50 families, recruit volunteers to help clean out homes and deploy trained, spiritual care teams to reach out to people evacuated to the George R. Brown Convention Center and in other hard-hit areas.These teams are also distributing gift cards to help with purchasing food, basic supplies and necessities. The organization’s US Disaster Program staff has been in regular contact with affected dioceses in Texas and Louisiana.

“Our church partners are providing critical assistance and caring for their neighbors in the aftermath of this devastating storm,” said Robert W. Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development. “I am deeply grateful to them and to our community of faithful supporters for their compassion and enormous generosity."

The storm has complicated relief activities. More than 50 inches of rain has fallen since Harvey first hit the Texas coast, equivalent to the state’s total annual rainfall. Although downgraded to a tropical storm and then to a tropical depression, heavy rain continues to fall as the National Weather Service warns that “catastrophic and life threatening flooding continues in Southeastern Texas and portions of Southwestern Louisiana.”  While rains have ended in most of Texas, the complete impact has yet to be determined as the storm continues to linger, with dams overtopping and streets and highways overwhelmed with flooding.

 “Our response to Hurricane Harvey is ongoing and we are extremely proud of the work of our church partners who are meeting urgent needs in these early days,” said Katie Mears, Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “As they continue to conduct assessments locally, we stand ready to support them in the weeks and months ahead.”

Please continue to pray for families and communities affected by Hurricane Harvey, those who have lost their lives, and all of those impacted by the storm.

Donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund to help Episcopal Relief & Development assist local partners in responding to critical needs.

For Bulletin Inserts and other Hurricane Harvey resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/harvey.

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.

Photo Credit: US Coast Guard


August 30, 2017web-statement-badge-1

Providing Emergency Support to Texas

Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas to provide emergency support in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the largest rainstorm in the history of the United States. Emergency support includes pastoral care, gift cards and funding for temporary housing. Teams of trained spiritual care volunteers will be dispersed through the diocese providing care.

With many clergy, staff and congregations sheltering in place over the past few days, Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program has conducted regular calls to share information and to provide updates for affected dioceses in Texas and Louisiana. AlertMedia, a pilot program used by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, has enabled staff and congregational leaders to share assessment information with diocesan leadership.

Several churches have begun to leverage their existing ministries and community relationships to provide shelter, particularly those who are most vulnerable or medically fragile. They are offering food and emergency supplies and pastoral care for people displaced from their homes.

 “The response to Harvey is developing as church partners and dioceses assess and respond to impacted areas,” said Katie Mears, Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “We’re preparing for the relief and recovery phases. We will continue to partner with these dioceses in the weeks and months ahead.”

Please continue to pray for communities affected by Hurricane Harvey, and donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund to help Episcopal Relief & Development assist local partners in responding to critical needs.


August 29, 2017web-statement-badge-1

Response to Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey, now downgraded to a tropical storm from a category 4 hurricane, continues to linger over parts of Texas and is expected to hit southwestern Louisiana over the next few days. Thousands of residents have been driven from their homes since Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25.

The National Weather Service is reporting a record of 49.32 inches of rain in some areas, the heaviest total from any tropical storm in the continental US, calling it one of the worst flood disasters in the country. Weather conditions are constantly changing, with more heavy rain and river flooding expected through early next week. The Weather Service has issued storm surge warnings along the coast, with “a possibility of life- threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland.” The current conditions are a concern, especially on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, August 29.  

So far, 10 deaths have been reported with more anticipated once flooding eventually subsides. Hundreds of thousands have sought refuge in shelters. In Texas, some Episcopal churches are housing people because their homes have been flooded or severely damaged by the storm. Many residents are sheltered in and not able to leave their homes. “Neighborhoods have become islands of small communities surrounded by water,” said Katie Mears, Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “We are hearing so many inspirational stories of compassion, hospitality and care, including people with boats and trucks ferrying supplies from one area to another.”

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to assess the impact of the storm while holding regular calls with leaders in the affected dioceses. The US Disaster team is helping to coordinate offers of assistance from outside the region.

The impact of Hurricane Harvey has yet to be determined as church partners in Texas and Louisiana prepare for the days and weeks ahead.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has asked Episcopalians to support communities in Texas and Louisiana devastated by Hurricane Harvey by supporting the work of Episcopal Relief & Development.

 Here’s how you can help:

  • Donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund
  • Please do not send food, clothing and other items because of the limited capacity to receive, store and distribute goods 
  • Circulate bulletin inserts for use during Sunday worship services
  • Sign up on the Ready to Serve database to register as a possible volunteer in the future
  • Follow Episcopal Relief & Development’s updates on Facebook and Twitter

To view Bishop Curry’s full statement and video message, click here.

 

Please continue to pray for first responders, caregivers and all those in the path of the storm. Thank you for your support.


August 28, 2017web-statement-badge-1

Gulf Coast Dioceses Prepare for Response to Hurricane Harvey

Tropical Storm Harvey strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane with130 mile hour winds and made landfall in Texas on the evening of Friday, August 25th. It hit the Texas coast with devastating rains and flooding in the most powerful storm to hit the state in more than 50 years.

The National Weather Service called Harvey’s flooding unprecedented and “unknown and beyond anything experienced.” To date, there have been seven deaths reported and more than a dozen people have been injured. Hurricane Harvey has dropped more than 25 inches of raino n Houston, Galveston and the surrounding areas with heavy rains and flooding expected to continue for the next several days. Torrential rains and catastrophic flooding have destroyed towns along the coast and left thousands without shelter and access to emergency medical services. A total of 50 inches of rain is expected to fall by the end of the week throughout the area.

Episcopal Relief & Development staff is coordinating with the dioceses of Texas, West Texas and Western Louisiana on potential response efforts. Local church partners are checking on leaders and members and planning the use of church facilities and resources where available. Currently, assessments are limited due to safety concerns.

 “Hurricane Harvey is not over yet,” said Katie Mears, Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “Heavy rains are expected throughout the week. Our team is in touch with affected dioceses while praying, gathering information and assessing potential local needs. Members of the dioceses are sheltering in place.”

Episcopal Relief & Development has partnered with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas to pilot the AlertMedia mass messaging system that was used successfully after the flooding in the Diocese of Louisiana last year. This platform has enabled the dioceses to communicate with staff and congregational leaders to share information and assess needs. “Obtaining the status of church leaders and their properties will allow the diocese to focus on those with the greatest needs and move more quickly and effectively in planning their response,” Mears said.

 “Leaders in Texas and Louisiana have extensive and valuable experience with responding to disasters,” Mears continued. “While it is certainly a challenging time, this wealth of experience allows diocesan leaders to develop an effective response to present needs and compassionately provide critical information in the days and months to come.”

In response to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said, “Long ago the prophet Malachi taught that we are all children of God by virtue of our creation by the same God. ‘Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us,’ he asked (2:10). Jesus taught the same thing when he told a story about a Good Samaritan. We are indeed all the children of God. And if we are all God's children, then we are all brothers and sisters,” he continued. “As you know, our brothers and sisters in Texas now need our help. Our support of Episcopal Relief & Development is a tangible, practical, effective and reliable way to do that, not just in the short term, but for the long haul. Thank you for whatever you can do for together we are the human family of God."

To enable Episcopal Relief & Development to provide critical support after the storm, please donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund.

Please continue to pray for those impacted by storms and flooding, for first responders who are conducting search and rescue operations and for church communities who are reaching out to care for their members and neighbors.

A Prayer from The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas

Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy city where the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Sustain those displaced by the storm with food, drink, and all other bodily necessities of life. We especially remember before you all poor and neglected persons it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, we may ever be defended by your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Photo Credit: Staff Sergeant Tim Pruitt, Texas National Guard

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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.

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