Creation Care

The Episcopal Church & Hurricanes

November 3, 2022
Creation Care

By Ethan Marshall

I am Ethan Marshall and I am a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida. It was a surreal experience riding out Hurricane Ian, even though I was on the weaker side of the storm. You may have heard in the news about Hurricane Ian: this devastating hurricane slammed the southwest coast of Florida on September 28, 2022. Hurricane Ian is tied for the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the United States and it is an example of the threats that a changing climate has on coastal and upland communities around the world. Science has reported that climate change will likely make tropical cyclones more intense, larger, and therefore, more destructive to human settlements, both on the coast and inland. Many citizens of the state of Florida have had their basic infrastructure swept out from right beneath them.

My parish, All Angels By The Sea Episcopal Church, sits on a barrier island, Longboat Key, just 11 feet above sea level, and while the worst of Hurricane Ian passed just south of my church, it flooded and severely damaged others in its wake. After the storm passed through, around 24 Epsicopal parishes reported minor to severe damages. Many of the people and parishes here are fortunate to be able to rebuild, others cannot. Low income communities across the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico often struggle the most to pick up the pieces and rebuild. I am proud to say that the churches impacted by the storm are not only rebuilding their buildings but also reaching into their local communities to help those in need of food, water, or basic supplies that may have been lost or were hard to come by in the weeks after the hurricane. In this sort of crisis, people needed a calm place to charge their phone, use the internet, and rest; local churches have provided this too.

It is our mission as Christians to be a light for others and to help the destitute and the needy, likewise it is also our duty as global citizens to leave no one behind, as the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals are attempting to accomplish.

The need for action on climate change is felt globally. The loss and damage discussions of the COP27 are even more present in the minds of many Floridians who are just beginning the hard work of rebuilding. Likewise, I hope the world is going to take new steps and fulfill promises in building a better globe for all. We all have the opportunity to be a part of the good for our world. I chose to be a part of this delegation before Hurricane Ian had formed. I joined because the globe is in this climate crisis that is of our own doing. I believe it is the calling of Christians and as global citizens to be a part of the change by reconciling our past, and thinking forward to solutions and actions for the future. I am blessed to be where I am now in life and with this amazing delegation and with citizens from all corners of the Earth to be a part of the advocacy of sustainability and justice.

Hurricane Ian satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Hi, I’m Ethan Marshall. I am 19 years old and a sophomore attending the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. I am studying Environmental Science and Policy. I live in Bradenton, Florida, only 50-60 miles away from the devastation of Hurricane Ian. Thankfully, my church and home fared well during the hurricane. My love for Nature started when I was young living in San Diego, California, I was enthralled by the beach and inland scenery. In Florida, I love the beautiful wetlands and warm coastal waters.

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The Rev. Melanie Mullen

Director, Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care

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Phoebe Chatfield

Associate for Creation Care and Justice

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