As mandatory evacuation orders end and people on the coast of Georgia return home to begin the clean up, it is clear that the damage from Hurricane Matthew is less than was feared or forecasted.
“We are enormously grateful that the damage to the vast majority of our church property was so minimal, but we know that others in the southeastern United States, and particularly our sisters and brothers in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas, did not fare so well,” said Bishop Scott Benhase. “Our hearts and prayers go out to them. If you are moved to provide financial support for the recovery from this hurricane, then please do so through Episcopal Relief and Development and direct your gift to one of those countries in the Caribbean.”
“I am thankful for the work of my entire staff as well as the Revs. Charles Todd and Jim Parker, our Diocesan Disaster Preparedness Coordinators,” he said. “They all worked together to network and support all our congregations. The good work this diocese did to prepare for the hurricane allowed us to weather this storm. In the days ahead there will be insurance claims to file and lots to repair and to clean up. We will do that and move on. God has called us together so that we might be the hands and heart of Jesus for others.”
Twenty-four congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and its Honey Creek Retreat Center are located in the six coastal Georgia counties and were under mandatory evacuation orders. As full property surveys continue, 22 churches and the Retreat Center suffered minor damage or even no damage from the storm. St. Francis of the Islands, Savannah, lost a significant number of trees which in turn damaged the church porch, education building and playground. There is also tree damage to the Vicarage for Holy Nativity, St. Simons Island. “The Diocese of Georgia will work with impacted churches and insurance agencies to ensure that the needs of our congregations are met,” said Canon for Administration Katie Willoughby. “We are thankful that so many of our communities emerged relatively unscathed by the storm. This is the time to turn our attention to those crying out in dire need, particularly in Haiti.”
Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), an international relief and development agency, provides a compassionate response to human suffering on behalf of the Episcopal Church. It is well positioned to respond to the current need, having responded to the 2010 earthquake through the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti’s development arm, Centre Diocésain de Developpement Intégré et de Secours (CEDDISEC). Donations to the Episcopal Relief & Development Fund’s Hurricane Matthew Response can be made here: http://www.episcopalrelief.org/hurricane-matthew-response.