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For most of last week, leaders from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and the co-moderators of the 223rd General Assembly (2018), made their way across Puerto Rico to listen, learn and share with congregations impacted by Hurricane Maria.
As the eyewall of Hurricane Florence passed over the Rev. Dr. Doug Cushing’s home in Leland, North Carolina, on the morning of Friday, Sept. 14, it was as if someone “had opened a firehose.”
While Hurricane Florence dominated media coverage in the U.S., the most intense storm of the year battered the Philippines, Guam, the Marshall Islands, China and Hong Kong, causing extensive damage, loss of life, landslides and severe flooding to residents. Super Typhoon Mangkhut battered the northern Philippines with wind speeds up to 175 miles per hour, more powerful than a Category 5 hurricane. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is working with its area partners, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and ACT Alliance, to assess the damage and deliver timely response actions.
The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the Office of Public Witness, joined faith leaders from major Christian denominations to host a prayer vigil and rally in Lafayette Park in front of the White House on Wednesday. Their call to witness was to demand that the Trump administration stop slashing the refugee program and welcome 75,000 new refugees in 2019. The rally, sponsored by Church World Service, was held prior to the administration’s planned consultation meeting with Congress, which is expected soon, although no firm date has been set.
As news comes in of the devastating effects of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and South Carolina, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is organizing a response that will help sustain life and restore hope in the coming days. “Our hearts break and rise up in prayer for the people along the Atlantic coast and the inland areas of the Carolinas,” says the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, PDA director. “Right now, we need the church’s prayers and financial assistance.”
As Hurricane Florence bears down on the eastern coast of the United States, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and Presbyterian Women (PW) are sending out the reminder that September is recognized as National Preparedness Month (NPM). Since 2014, through the Presbyterian Women Disaster Preparedness program, PDA and PW have collaborated to assist congregations and presbyteries to create disaster preparedness plans.
To Breathe Free, a short movie produced by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), will be screened twice in upcoming days at the DC Shorts Film Festival in Washington, D.C. Produced and shot in D.C., the film follows the five-year saga of a Syrian family fleeing the war in Homs, Syria to refugee camps in Jordan to beginning their new life in the nation’s capital.
It’s been a year since a trio of hurricanes wreaked havoc on Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, leaving a path of destruction, major power outages and many people without homes. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in quick succession, pummeled their targets over several days late last summer.
Cleanup continues in parts of the northeast following last week’s heavy rains and flooding. Torrential rains dropped several inches on communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded and cars were submerged in the muddy water.
A representative from a Kenya-based church organization visited the Presbyterian Mission Agency on Monday to discuss the plight facing South Sudanese refugees. The Rev. Nicta M. Lubaale, general secretary of the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), was hosted by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.