As Hurricane Ian slammed into southwest Florida, the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida posted a list of emergency resources. Coadjutor (incoming) Bishop Douglas Scharf posted a video on the diocesan Facebook page, noting the resources available and offering prayer for all in the storm’s path.
Meanwhile, Episcopal Relief & Development posted the following message on its website:
Episcopal Relief & Development is in close contact with Episcopal dioceses in the southern United States and Cuba in response to Hurricane Ian, which made landfall in Cuba on Tuesday and in southwest Florida on Wednesday.
In Cuba, the category 3 storm killed two people and knocked out power to the entire country.
“The Episcopal Church in Cuba has mobilized its local disaster committees who are assessing the damage, and potential responses, in their communities,” said Kellie McDaniel, Program Officer, Episcopal Relief & Development. “We pray for the people of Cuba who are living through several recent disasters.”
Hurricane Ian intensified to a category 4 storm before making landfall again on Wednesday near Port Charlotte, Fla. with winds of 150 m.p.h. As of Thursday morning, more than two million people were without power and a storm surge of up to 12 feet caused severe flooding. The storm also caused flooding in the Florida Keys after heavy rain on Tuesday night. It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina by Friday.
Dioceses in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have been preparing this week by checking in with communities in the storm’s path, testing emergency communications systems and coordinating with area agencies.
“Our partners in the southern United States have deep roots in the community and are using their relationships to assess the needs caused by Hurricane Ian,” said Lura Steele, Program Officer, US Disaster Program, Episcopal Relief & Development. “We stand ready to assist in the coming days and weeks.”