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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.
As the U.S. debates the moral and legal ramifications of federal raids on illegal immigrants, the United Nations Refugee Agency will commemorate World Refugee Day on Wednesday, June 20. The event began in 2000 to raise awareness on the global responsibility for refugees.
The death toll continues to climb following Sunday’s eruption of the Fuego Volcano in Guatemala. More than 100 people are known to have died following the blast, and more than 200 are still unaccounted for. Communities near the volcano are buried under ash and rock.
Remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto have caused serious problems for western North Carolina this week. Record rainfall over the past three weeks, coupled with flooding on Tuesday evening, has impacted many communities, including Montreat.
A new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health estimates the death toll during and after Hurricane Maria may be closer to 4,600 or more. The study, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests access to medical care and basic needs may have been contributing factors.