Episcopal Relief & Development Reaches Out to Partners in Hurricane’s Path

November 20, 2012

Eight deacons from the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey gathered at the diocesan center in Trenton on November 19 to learn how to facilitate FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration)disaster assistance registration. The training was held by members of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program and Partners in Response team as part of the organization’s response to Hurricane Sandy.

December 31 is the deadline for registering with FEMA. Individuals in impacted areas should first check the published disaster declarations to see if their county is eligible for federal assistance. Once eligibility is established, residents should register with FEMA before December 31 in order to be able to apply for assistance as it becomes available.

“FEMA registration is fairly straightforward, but getting people to jump into the process can be a challenge” said Dave Baylor, Diocesan Disaster Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and member of the Partners in Response team. “Some people just need encouragement, but others need assistance filling out the forms or getting their materials organized ahead of time. This is where deacons and parish volunteers can really be of help.”

Deacons from around the diocese were encouraged to identify and recruit volunteers from their congregations who could accompany people through application processes for disaster assistance funds, including from FEMA, insurance agencies and others.

The FEMA registration assistance training session in New Jersey came at the end of a week-long visit by members of the Partners in Response team to areas that were impacted by Sandy. Episcopal Relief & Development is also working with the Episcopal dioceses of New York, Long Island, Newark and Connecticut. In addition, the agency continues to support its Church partners in the Caribbean as they distribute water, food and supplies for home reconstruction.

The immediate relief phase of the response is now winding down, but the need for local volunteers, cleaning supplies, construction materials, furniture and appliances will continue well into the recovery phase. Please support these efforts by contributing to the Hurricane Sandy Response Fund, which will ensure that help reaches where it is most needed.

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Week of November 19, 2012:

Week of November 12, 2012:

  • 11/16: Episcopal Relief & Development staff and members of the Partners in Response team visited the Episcopal dioceses of Long Island and New Jersey this week, and diocesan leaders are working regionally, along with Episcopal Relief & Development, to coordinate and plan the next phase of response work.
  • 11/16: Communications Officer Faith Rowold blogs about a visit to Trinity Episcopal Church and St. George’s Regional Disaster Recovery & Community Outreach Center in northeastern Pennsylvania.  Established in response to flooding from Hurricane Irene, St. George’s had made preparations to act as an emergency shelter during Hurricane Sandy.

November 12, 2012

Episcopal Relief & Development is currently supporting temporary housing in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, and the collection and distribution of supplies in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The organization encourages people in impacted areas to continue reaching out to their vulnerable neighbors and assisting their churches with ongoing relief efforts. Those living outside affected areas can help by making a contribution to the Hurricane Sandy Response Fund, which will support short- and long-term recovery activities as it becomes clearer where the need is greatest.

The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey has posted a Google map of churches acting as recovery centers.

The Episcopal Church has created a video about the efforts of St. Mark’s in-the-Bowery to serve as a relief center and coordinate volunteers to minister to those in need, especially in public housing.

Sharon Sheridan’s article for Episcopal News Service also gives a detailed picture of the efforts of congregations in impacted areas to minister to their communities.

Week of November 5, 2012:

  • 11/8: A new PDF resource has been posted: “Tips for Parents in Helping Children and Youth Cope
  • 11/7: Please read the November 7 press release.  The predicted Nor’easter is already bringing snow and cold temperatures to New York and New Jersey, and trees damaged by Superstorm Sandy are falling and taking down power lines.  Please continue to pray for all those impacted by these storms.
  • 11/5: Please read the November 5 press release.  In addition to the activities listed, Episcopal Relief & Development has hosted a coordinating call with leaders from the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

November 2, 2012

November 1, 2012

Episcopal Relief & Development is in close contact with partners in impacted areas of the Caribbean and US East Coast as they assess and begin to respond to community needs.

Katie Mears, Program Manager for US Disaster Preparedness and Response, and the Rt. Rev. Andrew Dietsche are meeting with impacted clergy from the Episcopal Diocese of New York on November 1 to share information, coordinate resources and identify areas of significant need. Mears has also been working with Diocesan Disaster Coordinators in the Episcopal dioceses of Long Island, New Jersey and Newark. Diocesan Disaster Coordinators are appointed by their bishop to act as the liaison between Episcopal Relief & Development and diocesan leadership, and to encourage and assist the diocese and its congregations in disaster preparedness planning and response. Please visit www.episcopalrelief.org to learn more about the US Disaster Program and download disaster preparedness planning tools for your home or congregation.

Episcopal Relief & Development has also been in touch with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, where damage from Hurricane Sandy appears to exceed that from Hurricane Isaac in late August. Agricultural regions in the southern part of the country were especially hard-hit, leading to concerns about high prices and potential shortages of fresh food. The diocese is conducting needs assessments in impacted areas and continues to receive reports from local clergy, helping to inform the response plans currently in development.

To support relief and recovery work in areas impacted by the storm, please contribute to the Hurricane Sandy Response Fund. Churches are encouraged to download and use the bulletin insert to gather a designated offering to help those in need.

October 30, 2012

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to reach out to impacted partners in the Caribbean and along the eastern coast of the US.  At least 69 people have died in the Caribbean due to the storm (ABCnews.com), and flooding is widespread.  In the US, the storm has killed at least 17 people in six states, and left 6 million without power (WSJ.com).  Parts of New Jersey and New York City are witnessing record flooding, and blizzard warnings have been issued in West Virginia, western Virginia and parts of Maryland (Weather.com).  This is a significant storm and Episcopal Relief & Development will continue to stand with its local partners as they assess needs and develop response strategies.  Please pray for those affected by this storm.  At this time, you can make a donation to the Hurricane Sandy Response Fund, which will support the efforts of our partners in both the Caribbean and the US.

October 29, 2012

Episcopal Relief & Development has reached out to partners in the Caribbean and along the US East Coast, from the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina to the Diocese of Massachusetts, as they prepare for and respond to Hurricane Sandy. The storm blasted through the Caribbean on October 25, causing property damage and claiming the lives of at least 21 people in Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba, before sweeping north along the eastern coast of the United States. Minor flooding was reported along the North Carolina coast, but the full impact of the hurricane is expected to be felt first in the New Jersey and New York City area in the early afternoon on October 29. Severe wind, heavy rain and storm surges of up to 6-11 feet are anticipated across a wide swath of the East Coast, with possible blizzard conditions in Appalachian areas from North Carolina to Pennsylvania.

In the Caribbean, local dioceses are currently utilizing Episcopal Relief & Development’s disaster preparedness and response planning tools to conduct needs assessments and formulate relief activities. We will continue to be in touch with our partners as they minister to impacted communities.

In the United States, Episcopal Relief & Development has reached out to dioceses throughout the 700-mile-wide storm’s impact zone. Katie Mears, Program Manager for US Disaster Preparedness and Response, has been in contact with over a dozen Diocesan Disaster Coordinators about preparedness planning on the diocesan and parish levels. Of particular concern are regions that are still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Irene in 2011, including parts of Pennsylvania and Vermont. In the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, staff and volunteers are preparing the new regional disaster recovery center (a decommissioned Episcopal Church donated by the diocese and rehabilitated with support from Episcopal Relief & Development) to provide shelter and other relief as needed.

With its headquarters in New York City, Episcopal Relief & Development has put into action its own disaster preparedness plan and will be staying current on all storm developments. “The storm is set to make landfall around 2 p.m. today [October 29], with the worst of it over tonight,” said Katie Mears. “It’s a slow-moving storm, though, and the effects could last for days. For lots of people, a few days off work means lost income, which can make things tight financially. We’ve been in touch with Episcopal dioceses all along the East Coast and are ready to support our churches as they reach out to their neighbors.”

To support hurricane preparedness and response, please consider making a donation to the Hurricane Fund (for dioceses in the Caribbean) or the US Hurricane Relief Fund (for dioceses in the US). If you are in an area that may be impacted by Hurricane Sandy, please ensure that you have taken all necessary precautions. More information about how to prepare for disasters is available in the US Disaster Program Resource Library.

October 26, 2012

Episcopal Relief & Development has reached out to partners in the path of Hurricane Sandy, which blasted through the Caribbean on October 25, resulting in the deaths of at least 21 people in Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica. The storm is expected to bypass Florida and follow the coast north, making landfall in the Northeast as early as October 28.

At this time, we encourage prayers for those in the Caribbean who have been impacted by the storm, especially those who lost homes, livelihoods and loved ones. We also pray for those who are working now to offer emergency assistance.

For people along the eastern coast of the US, we offer preparedness planning tools to help reduce the impact of the storm and empower churches to respond to community needs. Click here to download the preparedness planning guide for individuals and families, or visit our Resource Library to access additional materials.

Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program inspires, connects and equips leaders of the US Episcopal Church and its partners to prepare for hazards that might affect their communities, to mitigate the impact of those disasters, and to help the vulnerable make a full and sustained recovery. Please visit www.episcopalrelief.org/USDisaster for more information.