Hurricane Relief thru Episcopal Relief & Development


For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

Please prayerfully consider how you can help and follow the link to the Episcopal Relief & Development website to make a monetary donation to The Hurricane Relief Fund.

(Reprinted from Episcopal Relief & Development)
October 12, 2018

Assessing and Responding to Hurricane Michael

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to support partner churches and dioceses as they assess the damage and impact of Hurricane Michael.

The Episcopal Relief & Development US Disaster team met again today with dioceses impacted by Hurricane Michael, the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history. Diocesan leaders are continuing to assess the destruction caused by this storm that hit earlier this week and to serve those affected. Episcopal Relief & Development will continue these coordination calls next week.

“From Highway 79 to the eastern edge of our diocese, the road conditions are still not safe for anyone to travel,” said The Rt. Rev. Russell Kendrick, diocesan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast in a video posted on Thursday. “Please be patient. Let’s let the trained responders do their jobs and make the conditions safe so we can get in there and help as necessary.”

Bishop Kendrick and other diocesan staff are driving to Panama City and other affected areas in the Central Gulf Coast today to personally assess the damage, particularly to the communities that are located on the water.

The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia reports significant damage in Albany, Brainbridge, Americus and the surrounding counties. Tree damage was significant in Albany, affecting the infrastructure and leaving many without power or potable water. In Bainbridge and Decatur County, roofs were blown off and trees took out power lines, blocked streets, and crashed into houses. The diocese has been communicating with congregational leaders usingAlertMedia, a cloud-based disaster communications tool provided by Episcopal Relief & Development.

Over 117,000 people are without electricity in the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Carolina. In some areas, power had only recently been restored after Hurricane Florence. In addition to the physical effects, Hurricane Michael has had an emotional toll on the communities who were still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

“The local dioceses are continuing to assess the damage caused by the storm,” said Katie Mears, Senior Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “Disasters have three phases: rescue, relief and recovery. We are prepared to support them as we move into the next phase of providing relief to affected communities.”

Bishop Kendrick concluded his update with a prayer for the people in the communities impacted by Hurricane Michael, their families and friends waiting to hear updates and the first responders who are providing rescue.

Please continue to pray for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. Donations to the Hurricane Relief Fund will help Episcopal Relief & Development respond to this crisis.

Take a moment to read the letter below by Josephine Hicks, Vice President for Episcopal Church Programs at Episcopal Relief & Development outlining what happens after a natural disaster and what’s needed in terms of our support during the various phases of rescue, relief and recovery efforts.

Photo: Florida National Guard


(Reprinted from Episcopal Relief & Development)

As I sit in Charlotte, North Carolina, I understand the roller coaster of emotions felt by people throughout many states bordering the Atlantic – concern, anxiety, relief, renewed concern – as forecasts and models for Hurricane Florence morphed and cast the Cone of Uncertainty in different directions in the days before it made landfall. Like you, I am now deeply saddened to see the devastation experienced in the Carolinas, which will likely grow worse as rivers and waterways continue to rise.

When we see images of people suffering, we want to do something to help. Of course we do. As Christians, we are called to seek and serve Christ in all people and never more so than in times of crisis.

For those impacted by Hurricane Florence, please follow the advice of your local authorities. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Otherwise, you won’t be able to help anyone else later on. As the airlines remind us: “Put on your own oxygen mask first before you help others.”

For those of us observing and praying from lesser impacted areas and from areas untouched by Florence, it’s important to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Equally important to remember, as with many things in life: Timing can be everything. Understanding the phases following a disaster can be useful in determining how you can help.

After most disasters there are three distinct, if sometimes overlapping, phases: Rescue, Relief and Recovery.

Phase 1 – Rescue

The Rescue phase focuses on saving lives and securing property. It is most acute in those parts of a region that are directly flooded or damaged. Police, fire departments and other government agencies are best able to do this work. They have training and expertise, and they have equipment that can clear roads and debris and find people. The Rescue phase can take one to two weeks, sometimes longer.

In the case of Hurricane Florence, the rescue phase is just beginning. It can be heartbreaking to watch, I know. However, I urge all of us to be patient. Please pray for those who are suffering and for the professionals who are risking their lives to save others. Fortunately, many people people evacuated from the coastal and low-lying areas in North and South Carolina, and professionals are rescuing many who became trapped by rapidly rising waters.

Phase 2 – Relief

Next is the Relief phase. We and our partners begin preparing for this phase once we understand the magnitude of an event. During this phase, the local church will be one of the first places people go to seek assistance and shelter. Because they are prepared and experienced in disaster response, we know that our partners in the impacted dioceses will be active in the Relief phase. This is where Episcopal Relief & Development can support our partners.

Phase 3 – Recovery

Eventually, we get to the third and final phase: Recovery. During this period, the emphasis shifts to restoring services, repairing houses and buildings, returning individuals to self-sufficiency and rebuilding communities. Hurricane Florence presents two challenges in this regard. First, the double whammy of Rescue on top of Recovery: many communities that are now being inundated with rain and rising water from Hurricane Florence are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew’s impact in 2016.

The second challenge of the Recovery phase is that most of the television cameras and attention have moved on, but the human suffering has grown. It is a chronic state, not a crisis. However, this is the phase in which the Church excels. Our churches are part of the communities that have been impacted and can best identify needs and work with the community to address them efficiently and effectively.

This may still leave you wondering: How can I help?

Financial Support

Now is the time to offer financial support. Contributing to Episcopal Relief & Development will ensure that we have enough resources to support the work of our church partners as they serve the most vulnerable in their communities. They are best positioned to assess needs and timing for response efforts.

One of the immediate ways Episcopal Relief & Development and our partners help individuals is by handing out gift cards to local stores so that people can choose what they need the most. It not only affords people dignity but it also helps stimulate the local economy, which needs to recover post-disaster.


The best approach is to wait until those affected have indicated what kind of support is most needed and whether they are ready to house and utilize volunteers. Inserting ourselves at the appropriate time alleviates additional stress and complications that can actually make things worse. If you think you would like to volunteer please register with Episcopal Relief & Development’s Ready to Serve database. This list of volunteers will be shared with the impacted dioceses once they are ready to use and support volunteers. They will contact you if and when they need help.

Donating Goods

My firm recommendation is don’t do it. Piles of discarded clothing in parking lots after Hurricane Katrina and SuperStorm Sandy teach us not to send clothes or shoes or things. After major disasters, diocesan staff have limited capacity to receive, store or distribute donated goods. Here’s a great article about the challenges of communities receiving donated goods: here.

Getting Prepared

As a reminder, September is National Preparedness Month. If were not impacted directly by Hurricane Florence, now is a great opportunity for you and your loved ones to prepare for disasters. Check out these helpful resources and tips: here. You can select 1 or 2 things to do each week. By the end of the month, you will feel less anxiety and more prepared to face a sudden disaster or event.

An effective response requires us to discern what is most helpful and appropriate at any given time. Let’s continue to hold those directly impacted in our hearts and prayers throughout their recovery, long after the media images fade.

Josephine Hicks is the Vice President for Episcopal Church Programs at Episcopal Relief & Development.

Images: Top; Flooding, Middle; Debris in road as a result of hurricane, Bottom; 3 phases of hurricane response.

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