[Episcopal Relief & Development] 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.