NEW YORK – Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting disaster response efforts in Haiti and several Episcopal dioceses in the United States following Hurricane Matthew, which blasted through the Caribbean as a Category 4 storm before moving up the Atlantic coast and causing damage from Florida through southern Virginia.
Episcopal Relief & Development is providing direct support for food, water and shelter for approximately 520 families staying on church properties in Haiti’s southern peninsula, and is working with US dioceses to assess and respond to local needs after the storm. Churches in affected areas are leveraging their existing ministries and community relationships to provide specialized services and care for people who are displaced from their homes.
“Dioceses are engaging in creative and insightful disaster response outreach activities to populations that might not otherwise be able to easily access assistance,” said Katie Mears, Director of the organization’s US Disaster Program. “Florida is a great example of this, in their support of an existing, thriving worship community whose membership is primarily people experiencing homelessness, and East Carolina’s bolstering of a long-running ministry that assists migrant farm workers is exactly the kind of thing that shows excellent stewardship of resources.”
In Florida, diocesan leaders are responding to emergency needs and continuing community assessments. Currently, Episcopal Relief & Development support will expand the ministry of Church Without Walls in Jacksonville to provide food, water, clothing, bedding and sheltering materials for up to 300 homeless individuals in the area. Church Without Walls reaches people through weekly outdoor prayer and worship services that welcome all to share their unique gifts in community.
As flooding remains and evacuations continue in North Carolina, the Diocese of East Carolina is responding by reaching out and providing gift cards in hard-hit areas. In particular, support from Episcopal Relief & Development is helping to increase the response of the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry affiliated with La Iglesia Episcopal de la Sagrada Familia, a Spanish-language congregation in the town of Dunn. This ministry’s nearly 30 distinct outreach programs offer assistance with food, clothing, housing, immigration and advocacy, and the additional funds will help provide storage space and replacement of household goods. This support will also enable two other Spanish-language congregations with connections to well-established English-speaking congregations to use their buildings and connections to aid migrant workers.
“I’m extremely proud of how the dioceses throughout the impacted region are caring for their neighbors and meeting needs in this initial phase of the emergency response,” Mears said. “They have done impressive work reaching out during these first ten days, and are developing relationships that will continue to be useful through the entire disaster recovery process.”
In Haiti, Episcopal Relief & Development is providing direct assistance for food, water and shelter to church partners and displaced families sheltering in Petit Trou de Nippes, Paillant-Jeanette, Miragoane, Torbeck, Beraud, Jeremie and Bainet. The organization’s staff has received information on specific vulnerable families through the network of Episcopal priests and is on the ground providing support in each community. Approximately 520 families are currently receiving assistance through these efforts.
“The Haiti response is developing rapidly as transport and communications are restored to impacted areas,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “The hurricane caused extensive flooding and mudslides, power outages and water shortages – compounding concerns about the possible spread of cholera. The Church is reaching out to the vulnerable in its midst.”
Please continue to pray for communities affected by Hurricane Matthew, and donate to the Hurricane Matthew Response Fund to help Episcopal Relief & Development assist local partners in responding to critical needs.
For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as a compassionate response to human suffering in the world. The agency works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters.