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How to help Puerto Rico

Nine days after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, UMCOR working with partners.

LINDA BLOOM & MICHELLE MOLDONADO
United Methodist News Service

September 29 — In response to the devastation caused by hurricane Maria, UMCOR – United Methodist Committee On Relief’s partners in Puerto Rico have invited UMCOR support for relief supplies and other commodities.

Bishop Hector Ortiz and the conference’s disaster response coordinator are assessing the greatest needs on the island. UMCOR is prepared to provide relief supplies, training, project development support, and grants as soon as needs are identified. UMCOR will coordinate any volunteer efforts in cooperation with the church in Puerto Rico. FEMA has also offered the possi shipping UMCOR relief kits and other commodities to Puerto Rico.

To support relief efforts in Puerto Rico, give to U.S. Disaster Response Advance #901670.

On September 21 Category 4 hurricane left Puerto Rico without power, with major building and infrastructure damage and a staggering amount of rain — about 30 inches in some areas.

“We feel with the people of Puerto Rico and in a special way with the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico,” Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, told United Methodist News Service.

Bishop Héctor Ortiz Vidal

“Bishop Héctor (Ortiz Vidal) is our board member and we have a number of Global Ministries missionaries and their families serving in Puerto Rico. We pray for their safety and stand in solidarity as one Methodist family.”

In a Sept. 21 message to United Methodist Communications, Ortiz said the destruction was “immense” and communications difficult.

“We do not know yet the damage that our churches suffered,” the bishop wrote. “I live in a sector that is isolated and blocked right now. I am working together with my neighbors in removing debris from the blocked roads and I trust some time it will be open.

“But we are alive and we are standing in the fight. With the strength of God’s hope, we will rebuild Puerto Rico again.”

This is the second of a tropical storm one-two punch for Puerto Rico. Hurricane Irma brushed by Puerto Rico on Sept. 6, leaving more than a million people without power but not the widespread damage that has resulted from Hurricane Maria.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief “is praying along with others” for the safety of people in Puerto Rico, said Catherine Earl, the agency’s director of U.S. disaster response and partner relations.

“We know that there are many people here on the mainland that have family and friends and other missional connections to Puerto Rico and the people of Puerto Rico,” she added.

Through the church and other partners — including National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster — and governmental connections such as FEMA, UMCOR can be part of a coordinated response in Puerto Rico when relief work begins, Earl said.

Kemper said UMCOR staff already had reached out to the Methodist Church in Puerto Rico regarding response and recovery.

In a letter written to Kemper as Irma was headed to the island, the Puerto Rican bishop asked The United Methodist Church for prayers and solidarity.

At that point, the Puerto Rican church had been in contact with 100 churches, including those on Vieques, Culebra and St. Croix of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We have oriented them in following the necessary steps to prepare for this atmospheric event,” he continued. “We have put in place an emergency system to work in the aftermath of the event. Nevertheless, there is not enough preparation for this type of hurricane.

“We are requesting the United Methodist Church for your prayers and your solidarity during this difficult time,” the bishop wrote. “Knowing that people outside of our area are praying for us gives us faith and courage.”

Things You Can Do

1. Please continue to pray for those whose lives will be impacted by hurricane Maria.

2. Make relief kits. Click here for current efforts underway in the Michigan Area.

3. Partner with UMCOR in responding to the needs of communities and individuals impacted by hurricane Maria. To support U.S. territories, give to U.S. Disaster Response Advance #901670. To give to non-U.S. territories in the Caribbean, please donate to International Disaster Response Advance #982450.

4.Please wait for an invitation to volunteer.

UMCOR – United Methodist Committee On Relief is grateful for your relentless prayers and support.

Photo by: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)

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The Michigan Conference