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Winter storms impact churches, presbyteries in Synod of the Sun

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance ready to help

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

An Oklahoma Army National Guard HUMVEE moves through the snow near Stroud, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Army National Guard in partnership with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol responded to numerous calls for help caused by severe weather conditions Feb. 14-15, as part of eight Stranded Motorist Assistance Recovery Teams made up of almost 90 soldiers. (Photo by Pfc. Emily White)

LOUISVILLE — Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has reached out to presbyteries in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana to offer assistance following a round of winter storms that has left many people without heat and safe drinking water.

“Literally, the entire Synod of the Sun has been impacted,” so nearly a dozen presbyteries, said the Rev. James Kirk, Associate for National Disaster Response for PDA.

While PDA is still waiting to hear back from some presbyteries, the ministry anticipates multiple church damage grants and multiple initial assistance grant requests.

“PDA is reaching out and working with the presbyteries as they assess the extent of the damage,” said Kirk. “The event is still unfolding,” and both travel and communication have been hampered by the weather.

WATCH | PDA describes the impact of the winter storms to Special Offerings

Texas has been particularly hard hit by the effects of an arctic blast that left millions under boil-water advisories after back-to-back storms dropped temperatures to record lows, leading to power outages and frozen pipes, according to The Weather Channel.

Based on initial conversations with Mission, New Covenant, Palo Duro and Grace presbyteries, there are power outages, and some churches have experienced burst pipes and flooding, Kirk said.

“We have heard that multiple churches have already experienced significant water damage and there are significant immediate unmet needs,” he said.

The storm also is impacting people on a personal level. “Many people don’t want to leave their home, even though they don’t have power and heat, because they’re afraid that if they do, they’ll come home to a flooded house,” Kirk said. “So they’re trying to stick close to home to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The public can help by donating to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, which can put the money toward crucial needs on the local level such as warm clothes, blankets, food and water.

“Right now, we’re working with local presbytery leadership,” Kirk said. “Please keep everybody impacted in your prayers.”

To help Presbyterian Disaster Assistance respond to the winter storms, you can donate online by going here.

PDA is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. It is supported by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

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