Episcopal News Service reports on the many churches that are responding to needs from Hurricane Sandy devastation in their communities:
The unusual October storm claimed more than 100 lives across nine states; caused severe flooding in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, leaving the region without electricity, and in some cases water, and crippling the region’s transportation infrastructure. Long lines have formed at gas stations throughout the region where fuel is scarce. And the economic damage caused by Sandy is estimated between $50 and $60 billion.
St. Peter’s efforts started when the town asked the church Nov. 1 to serve as an official warming and recharging station. The church put out a sign, and Rector Janet Broderick and Assistant Rector Melissa Hall started spreading the word while delivering coffee and snacks to people waiting in long lines for gasoline. One woman even left her car — and 10-year-old daughter — in Hall’s care while she made a quick bathroom dash.
“Then we realized the people who were coming were hungry, and they couldn’t cook [without electricity],” Broderick recounted. So the church served hot dogs for lunch and made a run to a restaurant supply store to buy supplies for a spaghetti dinner. A handful of staff, family members and lay volunteers began the effort; by the evening’s end, more than 100 people had arrived for dinner and 15 or 20 people were working the kitchen and serving lines.
The church began serving three hot meals a day. News 12 broadcast a report after breakfast Nov. 2, and volunteers and donations began pouring in. Some people came for dinner and warming a day or two, then returned to help after their electricity was restored.
Elisabeth Jacobs, a member of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Harlem, rode the bus to St. Mark’s — a trip that took an extra 40 minutes because of still-limited transportation — with donations and to help with distribution on Nov. 3.
“The Rev. Matt Heyd from Trinity Wall Street arrived with Rabbi Darrin Levine, Brian Parsons and Wesley Chen (all interfaith partners and brown-bag lunch program participants) and an SUV full of packaged food to be distributed,” she reported via e-mail. “I went with four others up to a tenement building on East 21st street.”
Concerning her faith, she said, “I connected with something I’ve never felt before — hauling that food up there, giving it to people who’ve been in their apartments without fresh food for a week, handicapped, afraid, not sure if they should open their doors, and, when they did, ever so grateful to see us.
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