Disaster Relief Aid - 2020

Page Contents

     Beirut Explosion Response - August 2020

     Derecho Response in Iowa - August 2020

     2020 Hurricanes - August 2020

     Western Wildfires - September 2020

 

Beirut Explosion Response

August 19, 2020

Background

     On August 4, 2020, shortly after 6 p.m. local time, the world was rocked for residents of Beirut, Beirut ExplosionLebanon. An explosion at the port – later revealed to be caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate being stored in a warehouse next to a grain silo – sent shockwaves across the city, shattering windows as far as 25 km away from the blast site.

     Although the full extent of the destruction is still unknown, the devastation was immediately clear. Buildings at the port were flattened, and apartments in nearby popular and densely packed neighborhoods crumbled. Even in the Beirut suburbs, doors were blown in and windows were shattered. Current estimates from the Red Cross and Ministry of the Interior are that over 150 people were killed in the blast, with some 6,000 injured. Losses of the Beirut explosion are no less than $5 billion according to most conservative estimates.

     This tragedy occurs amid political and social tension, the COVID-19 pandemic and Lebanon's worst economic crisis in a century. The economic, health, and political crises in Lebanon have left the country under-resourced and less able to respond to other major disasters.

 

The UCC's Response

     UCC Disaster Ministries has opened a giving opportunity to assist the people of Beirut, and has begun its response with a $10,000 contribution toward a multifaceted program to meet both physical and psychosocial needs created by the August 4 blast.

 

Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue

     That funding was requested by the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), a long-time Global Ministries partner, to help provide food, rent and other essentials to 200 families made homeless in this disaster. FDCD will also offer workshops for those who have experienced a great deal of trauma and distress as a result of the explosion, especially children, including those who have lost loved ones, whose homes were destroyed or who witnessed the explosion.

     “The full consequences of the explosion on August 4 will not be fully manifested for many months, but the dire need, especially among the most vulnerable citizens of our city, is already clear,” wrote Mrs. Mireille Hamouch, FDCD Vice President, and Mr. Salam Houch, FDCD Emergency Relief Program Coordinator, in the funds request.

     “Upon internal assessment and consultation with our partners,” they wrote, “FDCD has created a plan based on the urgent needs of families, the work of other NGOs in Beirut, and our particular strengths as an organization. (Our) interventions … are only the beginning of a long process of healing, but they will provide the foundations needed to begin to help Beirut and its rebuild after an unthinkable disaster.”

 

ACT Alliance

     In addition to the response that FCDC is providing, the ACT Secretariat held a meeting on August 18, with its members and partner organizations.

     "Of utmost concern was the ability to stand with the people who were harmed in this tragedy, especially while in their homes, and children," said the Rev. Phyllis Richards, Acting Team Leader of the UCC's Global H.O.P.E. Team.

     "ACT members are raising funds that will be needed as this response is well outside of the Lebanon Government’s ability to respond," she said. The response will include rebuilding of homes, houses and apartments, WASH and hygiene kits, gloves and masks, cash assistance, food, psycho-social protection, support to churches and Christians in the area, shelter, kitchen utilities, and aid to those made homeless by the explosion.

     "Recovering from the explosions is going to be difficult because it is hampered by COVID-19," Richards said. "But regardless of that, ACT partners are committed to standing with the people of Lebanon and are trying to help children go back to school, and adults rebuild and resume the activities of their businesses."

 

How to Send Aid through the UCC

     One hundred percent of your donations for relief aid are sent by St. Paul's UCC to that relief aid cause.

     To provide aid, simply make your gift payable to “St. Paul’s UCC” marked “Beirut Explosion,” which you can mail to the church office: St. Paul's UCC; 301 West Penn Ave; Robesonia, PA 19551.

or

     You can make a secure online donation by clicking on this green online giving link, use either of the “Special Mission” fields, and type “Beirut Explosion" in the  Comments Box.

     In addition, you are invited to pray for the victims of the Beirut explosion and peace in the region.  You can find a prayer by clicking on this Beirut Explosion Prayer link.

     For more information, please contact the Mission Committee (Steve Miller, Chairperson).  You can also click on this Beirut Explosion – UCC Response and Beirut Explosion – UCC Bulletin Insert links for more information on the UCC National Website.

 

 

 

UCC rallies support for derecho response in Iowa

August 21, 2020
Written by Carol Fouke-Mpoyo

Background

     The derecho* that hit central Iowa unexpectedly on August 10 with damaging winds was similar to a Category 2 hurricane. Winds clocked as high as 140 mph cut a 50- to 100-mile swath from Des Moines to the state's east. More than 90 percent of buildings in Cedar Rapids were damaged. Four people were killed. At the peak 600,000 in Iowa were without power, and more than one million in the greater Midwest. As of August 19, more than 10,000 remain without power. More than 100 people are still in shelters. Some 25,000 meals have been distributed, with many feeding programs still operating in Cedar Rapids, where the current disaster recovery focus is tree limb and brush removal, and tarping damaged roofs.Des-Moines-Tree-Damage

 

The UCC's Response

     At least three UCC congregations are in the high impact area: Hope UCC in Hiawatha, First Congregational UCC in Cedar Rapids, and First Congregational UCC in Belle Plaine. The Cedar Rapids building sustained damage. All three churches and their members are reaching out to help their communities recover, even as they deal with their own cleanup.

     After the derecho passed, Belle Plaine UCC and its pastor, the Rev. Kate West, took the lead feeding people in the town of Belle Plaine, population 2,500, providing 500-750 lunches per day for a week, reported Iowa Conference Disaster Coordinator Brice Hughes. The Iowa Conference is working with the pastor to provide a solidarity grant to assist with their extra expenses.

West's church also fielded offers of donations and volunteer help and offered hospitality for a group of college students who came in to Belle Plaine to help with tree and brush removal.

     "Due to the pandemic, work groups from outside Iowa are not being accepted at present," Hughes cautioned, "as COVID-19 cases in Iowa have been skyrocketing during the past three weeks." He said it is unsafe to enter from outside the state at present.

Hughes also reported that:

  • Don Miller, UCC Conference Disaster Coordinator from Kansas, delivered Clean-up Buckets to Belle Plaine on August 17. No additional need for Cleanup Buckets has been expressed at present.
  • UMCOR is currently active in Cedar Rapids. They are coordinating volunteers who are mostly doing outdoor brush removal and putting tarps on damaged roofs.
  • Hughes has started conversations with Disciples of Christ Week of Compassion representative Caroline Hamilton-Arnold about cooperative efforts in the future. At this time, there are no plans for a Mission Station.
  • As Long-Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs) form, there may be a need for seed money to help them get established and begin work.
  • As LTRGs form and the effort shifts from emergency response to rebuilding, there may be a need for case managers. Community Action is currently coordinating case management.

     UCC Disaster Ministries is working closely with the Iowa Conference on the response. UCC's support will be most needed in the long-term recovery phase, which will begin soon. 

     * A derecho is a line of intense, widespread and fast-moving windstorms and sometimes thunderstorms that move across a great distance and is characterized by damaging winds.

 

How to Send Aid through the UCC

     One hundred percent of your donations for derecho relief aid are sent by St. Paul's UCC to that relief aid cause.

     To provide aid, simply make your gift payable to “St. Paul’s UCC” marked “Iowa Derecho Response,” which you can mail to the church office: St. Paul's UCC; 301 West Penn Ave; Robesonia, PA 19551.

or

     You can make a secure online donation by clicking on this green online giving link, use either of the “Special Mission” fields, and type “Iowa Derecho Response" in the  Comments Box.

In addition, you are invited to pray for people affected by the derecho, especially those who lost their lives and their loved ones, those providing relief aid, and the congregations of Hope UCC in Hiawatha, First Congregational UCC in Cedar Rapids, and First Congregational UCC in Belle Plaine.

     For more information, please contact the Mission Committee (Steve Miller, Chairperson).  You can also click on this UCC Response to Derecho in IowaSept 1 Relief Aid article by Carol Fouke-Mpoyolink, and Sept 1 Relief Aid article by Kate West links for more information on the UCC National Website.

 

 

2020 Hurricanes - UCC Disaster Ministries Responds

August 31, 2020

Background

     2020 is acting according to predictions that it would be a particularly heavy hurricane season. The latest hurricane to make landfall is Laura, which made landfall during the night of August 26 as a Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds. At least three deaths are confirmed, and hundreds of thousands of households are without power.

 Hurricane Laura

The UCC's Response

     The Rev. Campbell Lovett, the UCC South Central Conference's Consulting Conference Minister, said he and Conference Disaster Coordinator the Rev. Mona Lopez "have been in touch with church folk along the Gulf Coast. Fortunately, New Orleans was spared from both storms. Back Bay Mission is doing okay as well."

     Lovett said he had not yet heard from the UCC's churches in New Iberia, Abbeville and Beaumont. "Rev. Mona and I are watching and waiting," he said. "The full extent of the damage is yet to be seen."

     UCC Disaster Ministries is in close communication with the South Central Conference, FEMA, National VOAD and other partners regarding recovery needs.

 

How to Send Aid through the UCC

     One hundred percent of your donations for hurricane relief aid are sent by St. Paul's UCC to that relief aid cause.

     To provide aid, simply make your gift payable to “St. Paul’s UCC” marked “2020 Hurricanes,” which you can mail to the church office: St. Paul's UCC; 301 West Penn Ave; Robesonia, PA 19551.

or

     You can make a secure online donation by clicking on this green online giving link, use either of the “Special Mission” fields, and type “2020 Hurricanes" in the  Comments Box.

In addition, you are invited to pray for people affected by the hurricanes and those providing relief aid.

     For more information, please contact the Mission Committee (Steve Miller, Chairperson).  You can also click on this 2020 Hurricanes - UCC Response link for more information on the UCC National Website.

 

 

Western Wildfires Keep People on High Alert

September 11, 2020

Written by Phyllis Richards

     Massive wildfires burning in California, Oregon and Washington have created havoc for manyWestern Wildfires UCC members, churches and their communities. At least 17 homes have been lost to the fires in Oregon. Many other people have been evacuated in all three states.
     In California some of the blazes are nearly contained as several new fires ignited Wednesday fanned by strong winds. In Washington, more acres were burned in the state Monday than were charred in the past 12 fire seasons, Gov. Jay Inslee said. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown said more than 300,000 acres have burned across the state... "these are the worst fire conditions in three decades."
     UCC Conference Ministers have been contacted. Many are still checking in with pastors, and assessing what's happening in each community.
     UCC Officer's and Disaster Ministries' staff continue to monitor the situation and offer support. The damage in some areas will be extensive according to early assessments by local government. The long-term recovery response may last 3 -5 years or longer.
     Your prayers and concern are welcomed and appreciated.
 
How to Send Aid through the UCC

     One hundred percent of your donations for relief aid are sent by St. Paul's UCC to that relief aid cause.

     To provide aid, simply make your gift payable to “St. Paul’s UCC” marked “2020 Wildfires,” which you can mail to the church office: St. Paul's UCC; 301 West Penn Ave; Robesonia, PA 19551.

or

     You can make a secure online donation by clicking on this green online giving link, use either of the “Special Mission” fields, and type “2020 Wildfires" in the  Comments Box.

     In addition, you are invited to pray for people affected by the wildfires and those fighting them.

     For more information, please contact the Mission Committee (Steve Miller, Chairperson).  You can also click on this 2020 Wildfires - UCC Response link for more information on the UCC National Website.

 

 

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