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Relief agency mounts broad flood response

Heavy flooding is seen in downtown Montpelier, Vt. Photo/U.S. Air National Guard/Senior Master Sgt. Michael Davis

By Episcopal Journal

Episcopal Relief & Development is responding to severe flooding in the U.S. and abroad, working with partners to bring relief to stricken communities.

In the first half of July, people in New York state and Vermont were hit by heavy rains that resulted in at least one death in each state and heavy municipal and property damage.

“The diocese in Vermont is continuing to use their local resources and together, we are discerning the appropriate response,” said Episcopal Relief & Development Program Officer Tamara Plummer.

The Rev. Walter Brownridge, canon to the ordinary for cultural transformation is overseeing the Vermont diocese’s emergency response. He met with Episcopal Relief & Development to begin the process of making emergency grants available to congregations that can help feed, clothe and house their neighbors, Episcopal News Service reported.

“This is phase one, in which we are asking our congregations to tell us about their emergency needs so we can respond through the generosity of Episcopal Relief & Development,” he said. “Next will be phase two when we assess the longer-term recovery needs of the communities we serve and how our diocese can play a part.”

Turning abroad, the agency reported that it supported partners in seven countries following cyclones and heavy rain in Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania. Through these responses with nine local partners, Episcopal Relief & Development reached more than 12,000 people and an additional 6,000 households.

Cyclone Freddy, which lasted for 36 days and had Category 5 hurricane equivalent strength, made landfall in Madagascar in February before hitting Mozambique twice followed by Malawi. At least 400 people were killed and tens of thousands were displaced. In response, Episcopal Relief & Development partnered with Eklesia Episkopaly Malagasy (EEM or Anglican Communion in Madagascar), the Anglican Council of Malawi and Igreja Anglicana de Mocambique e Angola in Mozambique to provide food, shelter, water, livestock support, hygiene materials and other items. 

“The 2022-2023 cyclone season had devastating effects on several countries,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Senior Program Officer, Disaster Resilience, Episcopal Relief & Development. “While Cyclone Freddy made the most news in the United States, several other storms caused major damage. We have been coordinating with our local partners to meet the unique needs of each community.”

In March, twin cyclones, Judy and Kevin, hit the Pacific islands of Vanuatu, leaving more than 80% of the population affected with many homes destroyed and residents without safe drinking water. Episcopal Relief & Development partnered with the Anglican Church of Melanesia-Vanuatu to distribute food, construction materials, water and hygiene kits to 4,000 people.

Cyclone Mocha made landfall in Myanmar, killing more than 400 people and leaving millions of others without shelter, drinking water and fuel. The Episcopal relief agency supported Anglicans in Development, which provided food, water and temporary shelter to 1,000 people.

In Peru, rain and wind from Cyclone Yaku killed at least six people and caused landslides that left homes buried in mud. Episcopal Relief & Development partnered with the Diocese of Peru to provide 140 households with food, water, blankets and school kits.

In response to heavy rainfall, Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Province of the Anglican Church in Congo with the Diocese of Bukavu to provide cash transfers to 100 marginalized households as well as training faith leaders on pastoral and counseling support.

In Mozambique, Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Diocese of Lebombo to provide food, hygiene and sanitation packs, school materials and agricultural support to more than 2,000 people, including over 200 children

“We continue to pray for all those who have been affected by these storms,” said Nesiah.  “Our local partners have been very effective in responding to and reaching out to the most vulnerable.”

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