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More than 100 people are dead and hundreds more are injured or missing following a 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia. The quake struck Sunday night on the popular resort island of Lombok. Two days later, rescuers are still pulling survivors from the rubble.
The wildfires raging in parts of California are being described by some state officials as among the most destructive in the state’s history. More than 100,000 acres have been charred by the flames, including over 1,300 structures, mostly homes.
A dozen tornados slashed through Iowa recently, leaving behind extensive property damage in their wake. Marshalltown, a community of about 25,000 residents, suffered catastrophic damage to its downtown area.
The congregation of another Presbyterian church is picking up the pieces following a fire last week. The First Presbyterian Church of Girard, Pennsylvania was destroyed after fire broke out early Sunday, July 15. It was one of two Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) churches damaged by fire in four days.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed the 40-year-old sanctuary of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, Arkansas last week. The fire broke out last Thursday night in the A-frame structure. No one was injured.
More than a dozen wildfires have been burning across Colorado and parts of Utah and California in recent weeks, leaving a path of destruction that includes nearly 300 homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that firefighters appear to have gained the upper hand in most of the fires.
Strong hurricanes, record flooding and massive wildfires have taken their toll on volunteer groups aiding in clean up and recovery. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance says that groups have been working hard in recent years to help communities rebuild, but the continuous string of powerful hurricanes and other natural disasters are making it harder to find enough people to meet the need.
Last week’s heavy rain in south Texas has brought back memories of Hurricane Harvey for some residents along the Gulf Coast. As much as 15 inches of rain fell in some communities, causing flash flooding and forcing hundreds to evacuate their homes.
Residents of Houghton, Michigan are still cleaning up from the impact of heavy rains and floods over a week ago. The National Weather Service reports more than six inches of rain fell June 16-17, sending rivers and streams over their banks and causing significant damage to several main roads in and out of town.
With 36,000 Americans dying from gun violence last year, the General Assembly gathering of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in St. Louis June 16-23 will reaffirm church policies for gun reform. Hopefully, Presbyterians will leave with new resources and a new resolve to take action at home to prevent gun violence. The 223rd General Assembly marks 50 years of Presbyterian statements on the need for legislative action to curb gun violence, beginning in 1968.