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Despite the heat and humidity, as many as 7,000 Central American migrants are still making their way slowly northward from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador into Mexico. The latest reports estimate they are still more than 1,100 miles from the U.S. border.
Two Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) National Response Teams (NRT) returned from deployment recently in southern Georgia and northwest Florida. They were there to assist in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Michael swiftly blew through the Florida panhandle and southern Georgia as a strong Category 4 storm earlier this month. The teams deployed into Flint River Presbytery and the Presbytery of Florida, where they made damage assessments in coordination with presbytery executives, worshipped with church members, assisted with short-term disaster response plans and identified opportunities for volunteers to help clean up the mess left behind.
Church congregations throughout Coastal Carolina Presbytery are struggling to repair their own buildings and meet the many needs in their congregations and communities following Hurricane Florence.
As news comes in of the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) 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 of northern Florida, Georgia and southeast Alabama,” says Laurie Kraus, PDA director. “Right now, we need the church’s prayers and financial assistance.”
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) sent three National Response Teams (NRT) into North Carolina and South Carolina in the wake of severe flooding caused by Hurricane Florence. The teams deployed into the presbyteries of Coastal Carolina, New Harmony and New Hope to make initial damage assessments, meet with presbytery staff and pastors in the affected areas, and be a presence for those affected by the storm’s extreme rainfall amounts and wind damage. Flooding and loss of housing, particularly for those most vulnerable, are the biggest short-term concerns for residents of the impacted areas.
Pastor Richard Rojas describes walking into his sanctuary at Puerto Nuevo Presbyterian Church after Hurricane Maria and sitting down and crying. The Category 4 storm hit his church in Puerto Rico hard. Roofs were torn off adjacent buildings, a metal fence lie twisted on the street in front of the church, and there was water damage in the sanctuary.
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.