Deputy General Secretary Paul Dirdak of UMCOR reported on the church's response to Hurricane Georges, which swept through the Caribbean and made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast in September.
Puerto Rico: Dirdak said an assessment team toured the island and reported yesterday. Their report stated that FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, expects 500,000 applications for assistance and estimates damage at $1.8 billion. Some 1.73 million electrical customers are without power, which will not be restored for six months. Dirdak said UMCOR had set up three generators, each producing 15,000 kilowatts. The Red Cross, he said, is using three UMCOR camps and had set up shelters there Churches also sustained serious losses. Funds will also be needed to restore the Methodist seminary, Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico (Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico). A proposal will be sent to UMCOR, which will combine it with funds for the rest of the Puerto Rico church.
. "The challenge is how to get containers in," he said. He added that volunteers would be needed to work in Puerto Rico "for years to come."
Leeward Islands: Keith Rae, GBGM executive secretary for church development, reported that 70 percent of the houses in St. Kitts lost their roofs. In Nevis "the whole agricultural base was wiped out," he said.
Dominican Republic: The same team that visited Puerto Rico also visited the Dominican Republic and confirmed the rumors that a dam had been overtopped and an estimated 1,500 people had been drowned or had disappeared. Dirdak said that apparently altercations had occurred at the entrance to some shelters, and some shelters collapsed. UMCOR is arranging flights of material aid to the D.R.
Haiti: Reports from Moise Isidore, district president of The United Methodist Church in Haiti, state that huge numbers of livestock and "all" crops were lost. Isidore has requested $60,000 from three agencies, including The United Methodist Church. UMCOR has initiated an officers' approval for $50,000 and has sent $10,000 of emergency aid directly.
Cuba: Dirdak said the communications with Cuban Bishop Gustavo Cruz were good. UMCOR has already sent an initial emergency grant of $10,000 through Action by Churches Together (ACT), the service arm of the World Council Of Churches
Alabama/West Florida: Dirdak and other UMCOR staff met with Bishop William W. Morris on September 30. The first emergency assistance grant of $10,000 from UMCOR was sent October 1. UMCOR also sent catastrophic team members to assist in coordinating services. Apparently there will be a need for home repair. The property of at least four congregations suffered major damage.
Mississippi: Dirdak and UMCOR staff toured the southern part of the conference with Bishop Marshall L. Meadors, Jr. The conference disaster team had been trained and had prepared many vulnerable people before the storm. The UMCOR Sager-Brown Center sent a forty-foot container filled with cleaning supplies and ten generators. UMCOR also made a $10,000 emergency grant to the conference. Dirdak estimates that many poor families will need assistance.
Louisiana: The most severe part of the storm bypassed Louisiana. The Sager-Brown Center was not affected. The center sent a truck with supplies to St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans.
Florida Keys: Bishop Cornelius L. Henderson and the conference disaster team visited the keys on September 28. They were able to provide immediate assistance because of the conference preparation before the storm.
| GBGM Briefings October 6, 1998, Shalom Communities |
| Mission News | Hurricane Georges Emergency | UMCOR | GBGM |