As people up and down the East Coast prepare for the impact of Hurricane Florence, dioceses, parishes, conference centers, and other church-based organizations are working to assist those affected by the storm, using their own resources and networks to communicate important information and help those in the way of the storm to prepare. Here are a few ways people have been responding so far:
Episcopal Relief & Development
For the past several days, Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD) has been working with eleven dioceses likely to be impacted by the storm through daily planning calls and training for disaster communications tools. In a statement on the ERD website, Senior Director of their US Disaster Program Katie Mears highlighted the importance of faith communities and diocesan leadership in disaster recovery, stating, “Leaders throughout this region have extensive experience preparing for and responding to disasters, and have powerful networks of relationships and ministries in their communities…This wealth of experience and deep community connections will allow diocesan leaders to effectively serve those most in need.”
In addition to training leaders for disaster recovery, ERD is also receiving donations of hurricane relief and provides congregational resources on fundraising as well as a page for those wondering how to respond through prayer.
For more information, please visit the Episcopal Relief & Development website.
Digital Presence & the Storm
Across the Southern U.S. as well as the East Coast, congregations and dioceses are proving right Mears’ comments about the power of networks and relationships by using their social media accounts and websites to minister to members by sharing important information regarding the progress of the storm. Many diocesan and parish websites have been updated to include information about the storm and even have imbedded links to FEMA, National Weather Service, and other organizations reporting on the storm.
The Diocese of East Carolina’s website has been transformed to include a “Hurricane Hub” which includes a pastoral letter from Bishop Robert Skirving, a list of diocesan cancellations, links to disaster preparedness resources, and suggestions of social media accounts to follow for hurricane updates.
The bishops of the Diocese of Virginia also shared a pastoral letter on their website and via email; the letter, sent September 12, included prayer, safety tips, and information about reporting hurricane damage.
Please check your diocesan or parish websites and social media accounts to learn more about preparation and responses for Hurricane Florence happening in your area.
Helping Those in Need
For others, still, this storm brings an opportunity to offer hospitality and sanctuary. Kanuga, a conference center located in Hendersonville, North Carolina, shared on their Facebook page that they are serving as a sanctuary for those seeking safety from the hurricane, including evacuees from a Charleston, SC retirement community.
In Ellicott City, Maryland, a town all too familiar with the destructive power of water after devastating floods in 2016 and 2018, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church is helping residents and business owners prepare for potential rain by providing sand for sandbags.
If your church, diocese, or organization is doing something to respond to needs of those in the path of Hurricane Florence, leave us a comment and let us know.