Statements from Episcopal Relief & Development on hurricane and earthquake relief efforts 

Episcopal Relief & Development Supports Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as Hurricane Maria Strikes

As Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday, September 20 in Puerto Rico after pummeling the already devastated Virgin Islands earlier in the day, Episcopal Relief & Development continues to partner with the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico to assess urgent needs while maintaining support for the islands of Culebra and Vieques.

The organization is supporting relief efforts with the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands and the Convoy of Hope to deliver critical water and other necessities to two of the most devastated islands following Hurricane Irma. Emergency support was sent to church partners in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to help purchase supplies in advance of Hurricane Maria.

Parts of the British and US Virgin Islands, already decimated by the ferocity of Hurricane Irma, braced themselves as Maria hit on Wednesday with 8 to16 inches of rain and hurricane force winds. The full impact of the storm is still unknown.

As a direct response to the impact of Hurricane Irma, Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Diocese of the Virgin Islands and the Convoy of Hope, a faith-based humanitarian organization located in Missouri, to ship critical emergency supplies to residents of the islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda. The approach of Hurricane Maria and a curfew on the islands forced the ship to move offshore.The shipment includes food, two portable kitchens, two refrigeration containers, 350,000 gallons of drinking water, 9,900 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel, tarps, plywood and nails as well as hygiene and infant care kits. The remainder of the supplies will be unloaded and distributed once the storm passes.

“These islands are among the most impacted by Hurricane Irma,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “We’re very concerned about vulnerable people, especially the older population and families with small children.”

Hurricane Maria moved away from the Virgin Islands and made landfall in Puerto Rico late Wednesday morning, battering the island with 155 mph winds that removed roofs from homes and ripped trees out of the ground. Storm surges are expected to reach six to nine feet with up to 25 inches of rain predicted in some areas. According to the National Hurricane Center, life-threatening flash floods, mudslides and tornadoes remain an issue. Hurricane Maria may be the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since a 1928 storm claimed more than 300 lives.

Downgraded to a powerful Category 4  storm, Hurricane Maria has forced thousands of people to seek shelter particularly those living in low-lying flood prone areas. It follows Hurricane Irma which hit two weeks ago, causing widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and other islands that are expected to last several months. Presently, the entire island of Puerto Rico is reported to be without power.

“Power outages are a great concern throughout the Caribbean,” noted Nelson. “They directly impact lives and the economy, affecting the most basic needs for refrigeration and electricity in homes to presenting major challenges for hospitals and businesses in the coming months.”

Culebra and Vieques, two islands in Puerto Rico which have experienced substantial damage from Hurricane Irma, were in the path of Hurricane Maria. Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting emergency relief efforts on these two islands by providing approximately 600 people with temporary housing, medical care, food and meal delivery, clothing, home repairs, water and first aid supplies.

“Right now, our church partners are sheltering in,” Nelson said. “We will be able to assess the impact of Hurricane Maria once the storm passes. Please continue to pray for those affected by both hurricanes. ”

Contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Relief Fund will help support church and other local partners as they provide critical emergency assistance to those most in need in the weeks and months ahead.

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Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Earthquakes in Mexico

 

Episcopal Relief & Development has reached out to church partners after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked the central part of Mexico on Tuesday, September 19, causing major damage and destruction in Mexico City, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Morelos and Puebla. It struck on the 32nd anniversary of an earthquake that killed over 5,000 people in 1985.

Dozens of buildings collapsed, including two schools, with over 200 deaths reported and leaving thousands trapped under the rubble. Rescue efforts were hampered by 23 aftershocks throughout the region as rescue efforts by police, firefighters, the military and volunteers work desperately to search for survivors. Over 4.6 million people are left without power and shelters have opened in several common spaces in affected areas.

This is the second major earthquake to hit Mexico this month. On September 7, an 8.2 magnitude quake caused approximately 100 deaths and damaged and destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings in Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Episcopal Relief & Development is coordinating with church partners to provide emergency assistance. The organization has been in contact with Bishop Benito Juarez-Martinez of the Anglican Diocese of Southeastern Mexico since the first earthquake struck. At that time, the diocese requested food, water and reconstruction materials to help 300 families in Oaxaca and Chiapas. As a result of the second quake, critical needs of the impacted communities are being reassessed and new areas of response added.

Please pray for affected families and communities in Mexico and for our church partners who are caring for those in need.

Donations to the International Disaster Response Fund will help Episcopal Relief & Development support people impacted by these two earthquakes in Mexico.

 

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For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as a compassionate response to human suffering in the world. The agency works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters.