Episcopal Relief & Development is working with Church partners to provide critical support to the most vulnerable communities impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
In partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, and the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, Episcopal Relief & Development is giving assistance such as food, water, clothing, shelter and other emergency supplies to individuals and families affected by the storm. The organization is also working through the Anglican Alliance to provide support to the Anglican Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos as they continue to assess the needs of communities.
Since late August, Episcopal Relief & Development staff has been in regular contact with Episcopal dioceses and other Church partners in the path of Hurricane Dorian to support both preparedness and relief efforts. The slow-moving storm passed through Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and up the eastern coast of the United States over Labor Day weekend and the first week in September. Hurricane Dorian slammed into the northern Bahamas as a Category 5 storm, devastating Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands with torrential winds, rains and a storm surge of up to 25 feet. More than 70,000 were affected and the full extent of the destruction is yet to be determined.
Working through the Anglican Alliance, Episcopal Relief & Development is providing support as the Anglican Diocese of the Bahamas & the Turks and Caicos conducts needs assessments of the island communities. Led by the Rt. Rev. Laish Z. Boyd, diocesan staff and clergy, many of whom themselves have been impacted by the storm, are working to identify unmet needs of the most vulnerable communities. It is in these gaps that the Church can play a unique role, both in immediate relief and in long-term recovery.
In Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, coastal areas were evacuated in advance of Hurricane Dorian, leaving many restaurant and farmworkers without a source of income as their places of employment shut down. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the Diocese of Georgia, as well as the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, stepped in by providing gas, food, water, clothing and other emergency supplies.
With the support of Episcopal Relief & Development, the Diocese of Central Florida provided non-perishable food and drinking water, emergency shelter and hurricane preparedness kits ahead of the storm to vulnerable communities including those who are homeless and people displaced from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
“After disasters, underserved and marginalized populations will likely be impacted whether the storm causes extensive physical damage or not,” said Katie Mears, Senior Director for Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “Evacuations can be expensive both in terms of the costs to evacuate and in the lost wages from the displacement. We commend our Church partners who have targeted overlooked families and individuals to meet needs after a disaster in non-traditional ways.”
Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program works in areas across the United States that have been affected by disasters such as hurricanes. The organization’s Disaster Preparedness Initiative equips Episcopal dioceses to prepare for and respond to crises. By offering resources and training and providing emergency support, the program helps vulnerable groups of people to make a full and sustained recovery and helps them to develop resiliency against future disasters. Many of the dioceses impacted by Hurricane Dorian have been working to develop this resilience and were ready to respond as needed.
To learn more about building a Season of Resilience and to download disaster preparedness resources, visit episcopalrelief.org/resilience.
Donations to the Hurricane Relief Fund will help Episcopal Relief & Development’s partners respond to the storm in the most efficient way possible. Many partners are not in a position to receive, store or distribute donations of physical goods or effectively use volunteer assistance at this time.