Oil Spill Update from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) sent out the following update on the Gulf Oil Spill on Friday, June 11:

PDA and other ministry programs of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continue to monitor the situation in the oil spill situation in the Gulf of Mexico.  PDA’s protocol when disasters occur in a region of our church, is to contact the middle governing bodies in the geographic area of the disaster and respond to the needs which they identify.

Weekly joint conference calls are being held with all presbyteries that border the Gulf of Mexico and staff in offices PC(USA) program staff.  Offices represented on the call include Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Presbyterian Hunger Program, Presbyterian Self-Development of People, Presbyterian Washington Office, Environmental Ministries and Theology and Worship.  The presbyteries and programs are still working to identify and catalog needs to which it may be appropriate to respond. Plans have been made to include our ecumenical partner, Church World Service on the next conference call to help determine a broader faith-based response.

One area of need that has been identified is emotional and spiritual care-giving for affected families.  A team from Alaska who lived through and learned from the oil spill in that region has been working with one of the affected presbyteries to share their learnings and provide empathetic support.
Please consider the following points as you pray for families affected by this disaster and wonder how you can respond.

• The nature of the damage done by an oil spill is different from the damage caused by other disasters such as hurricanes and floods.  How the spill affects personal property and people's livelihoods may require a different type of assessment and/or response.

• The actual clean-up effort is dangerous. We do not want to expose untrained volunteers to that level of toxicity. Nor do we have the capacity to train a large number of people in those skills.

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