LOUISVILLE – 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.”
“PDA was in communication with the presbyteries that were projected to be in the path of Hurricane Michael,” said Jim Kirk, associate for U.S. disaster response. “Now that the storm has passed through Florida and Georgia, PDA has reached out to the impacted presbyteries and will be deploying national response teams early next week, as well as offering emergency grants. The teams will support the presbyteries with initial assessments and next steps for the response. As happened last year, there have been multiple major hurricanes striking the U.S.”
Hurricane Michael was a strong Category 4 storm blowing winds in excess of 150 mph when it made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, Wednesday afternoon. It’s the strongest storm to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Michael left much of the Florida panhandle coast in ruins, including Panama City, which was forced to evacuate hundreds of patients from its two hospitals, including intensive care patients. A FEMA official was quoted as saying that Mexico Beach was “wiped out.” Two deaths have been reported so far, a man in Florida and a girl in Georgia, but rescue crews fear more will be added to the death toll as they begin cleaning up the debris.
The fast-moving storm had cut a swath through southeast Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas by Thursday morning. It’s expected to dump from four to nine inches of rain on the already soaked Carolinas, a region still reeling from flooding as a result of Hurricane Florence last month. More than 300,000 residents are currently without power in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Kraus and her colleagues in the Presbyterian Mission Agency and throughout the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are working with our partners to meet immediate needs and support long-term recovery.
by Scott O’Neill, Presbyterian News Service
To support recovery efforts in the wake of Michael and Florence, click here. You’ll be taken to the PC(USA) website to donate securely and quickly.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is the emergency response and refugee program of the denomination, committed to the long-term journey of recovery of communities adversely affected by a crisis or catastrophic event. It is funded by the One Great Hour of Sharing and has designated funds for responding to specific disasters.