Worst in weather brings out the best in Florida's Episcopalians

September 9, 2004
  • Worst in weather brings out the best in Florida's Episcopalians
  • A plea from Bishop Leo Frade of Southeast Florida to diocesan bishops
  • A message from Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard of Florida
  • Hurricane Frances batters storm-weary Florida
  • Episcopal Relief and Development offers bulletin insert on hurricanes

Worst in weather brings out the best in Florida's Episcopalians

By Jim DeLa

[ENS, from the Diocese of Southwest Florida] As Floridians continue to pick themselves up after two major hurricanes -- and prepare for a third -- churches in the midst of the chaos have risen up to provide care and comfort to their stricken communities.

Florida dioceses rallied to provide money and supplies as well as spiritual and physical comfort to thousands of victims in the wake of hurricanes Charley and Frances.

In Southwest Florida the diocesan office has collected more than $130,000 in donations to fund relief efforts and coordinated dozens of volunteer efforts in the affected areas.

"The response of this diocese, I tell you, has been overwhelming," Bishop John Lipscomb told clergy and lay leaders at the Manasota/Venice deanery convocation on September 8. "Your witness has been exemplary. I think that what has happened in these last two weeks has shown what is best about the Episcopal Church.

"You have responded and you have responded well," he said.

Charley and Frances, which crisscrossed the state only three weeks apart, caused significant damage to several churches and minor damage to many others in the dioceses of Southwest, Central and Southeast Florida. Damage estimates statewide are in the billions and the storms took the lives of at least 40 people, including the choirmaster at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Fort Myers, who died of head injuries after falling from a tree during clean-up activities at the church.

To make matters worse, a new monster storm, Hurricane Ivan, could hit the Sunshine State by Monday. Ivan, a category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 160 miles per hour, is expected to pass over Cuba over the weekend and head toward Florida. It would be the first time in
40 years that three storms have hit the state in a single year.

While Frances was twice the size of Charley, it did relatively little damage in Southwest Florida. The biggest challenges from Frances continue to be the threat of flooding as rivers crest and additional rain falls, along with the lack of electricity and phone service in many areas. It has taken utility companies a week or longer in some areas to restore power.

The storms turned entire communities upside down. Several congregations -- despite sustaining heavy damage themselves -- looked outward and became a refuge to those in need.

The diocese will help coordinate continuing relief efforts wherever they are needed. To keep track of current needs or to volunteer your time or talents, visit the diocesan website at: http://www.episcopalswfl.org/.

--Jim DeLa is Director of Communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida.

A plea from Bishop Leo Frade of Southeast Florida to diocesan bishops

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

As I prepare this email, we are getting the news that the southernmost part of our diocese, the Florida Keys, is beginning to be evacuated due to the threat from Hurricane Ivan. If this hurricane comes ashore anywhere in Florida, our state will be facing the third devastating storm in less than a month. We need your prayers for God's protection for our people in Florida.

Some of you have called or emailed me and have asked if you could be of help in our recovery from Hurricane Frances. After surveying the damage around our diocese, we have found that although there is little severe structural damage, electricity has not been restored in several areas and there are still many parishes and communities in need of help. Our congregations have been able to assist their parishioners and other people in need. I am proud of how they have responded even in the midst of this horrible disaster.

Our major problem seems to be the predicament that some of our churches are facing in order to repair the damage to their buildings. We have found that even without major structural damage, several churches had sufficient roof damage to cause serious leaks, with resulting water damage to the interior and furnishings. Churches, rectories, parish halls and some of our schools have been hit hard.

Some of our congregations simply do not have the funds to pay the high deductible amounts required by the insurance companies. Unfortunately, several of our ethnic minority and poor congregations find themselves in that place.

At this time there is no church agency able to respond to the needs of these congregations. We need your help to be able to repair the damage as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage from the rains. I am asking you to consider helping us and letting others in your diocese know of our plea.

We need your prayers and also your financial support to repair our churches, rectories and parish halls. If you need further information you can email me at: [email protected]

Donations should be sent to:
Diocese of Southeast Florida
525 N.E. 15 Street
Miami, FL 33132
Att: Hurricane Relief

Donations may also be made online at http://www.diosef.org/. Click on donations and indicate that the donation is for Hurricane Frances relief.

It will be a great blessing to me and to the people of our diocese to know that we have the support of the rest of our church family in this difficult time.

Blessings,

+Leo Frade

A message from Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard of Florida

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Hurricane Frances certainly took her time passing through our diocese. Some of us are still feeling the after-effects while others were able to clean up and continue their normal routines. Some are responding to the pastoral needs of parishioners and their community which have been hard hit by the rain, wind, and flooding. Some have been without electricity for several days. Whatever your situation, please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

We can be thankful that after contacting all the parishes and missions in our diocese, there is no significant damage reported. I hope and pray that there are no serious injuries to our diocesan family or its extended family.

Please keep those who are still trying to recover from Charley and Frances in your prayers. These hurricanes have devastated the other dioceses in Florida as well as affected dioceses outside the state.

May God continue to bless you.

Faithfully,

+John

The Right Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard
Bishop of Florida

Hurricane Frances batters storm-weary Florida

By Joe Thoma

[ENS, from the Diocese of Central Florida] - Still clearing debris from Hurricane Charley's August 13 assault on Florida, the state's Episcopal churches and their members are now cleaning up after Hurricane Frances' Labor Day weekend havoc.

The effects are lasting: Storm-stressed residents with power outages, mountains of debris, flooding, frayed nerves and long lines for groceries, gasoline and building supplies. Frances caused at least 10 deaths in Florida and Georgia. That's added to more than 20 from Hurricane Charley.

By Tuesday, September 7, damage reports trickled in from Episcopal churches and members in Florida dioceses.

Read more online at: http://www.cfdiocese.org/

Episcopal Relief and Development offers bulletin insert on hurricanes

Episcopal Relief and Development has a bulletin insert available following the recent hurricanes in the southeastern United States. Please encourage your parish to include it in the Sunday service leaflet and help people affected by the deadly storms.

The "Hurricane Relief" insert can be downloaded at: www.er-d.org/anewpubs.htm.