As News from the Pews is being compiled Friday morning, Hurricane Matthew is battering the coast of Florida and Georgia and moving towards South Carolina. More than a million coastal residents have evacuated their homes, and the ultimate damage from wind, rain and storm surges is not yet known. Please keep all first responders as well as residents in your prayers as they go through this tumultuous and potentially life-changing weekend.
Many of us are closely tied to Florida through our families – or our own winter homes. If you have any news of loved ones or your own home or church or neighborhood in the affected areas that you would like to share with the parish, you can email the information to Pat Griffith. I will send out an update report, hopefully with some reassuring news as well as any personal needs, early next week when Matthew’s wrath has eased.
Meanwhile, the devastation and desperation Matthew has left behind in Haiti is slowly becoming clearer. Entire communities in southwest Haiti have been leveled, and the fate of tens of thousands who had been living in tents and tin-roofed shacks awaits rebuilding of roads and the arrival of aid organizations. We will be in touch with the Diocese of Maine and Maine-based groups with direct ties to Haiti, such as Konbit Sante in Portland which has sent medical missions for many years, to see how St. Margaret’s might most effectively help in relief and restoration efforts. We will take a special collection for Haiti, in cash and by check, next Sunday, Oct. 16, and direct these donations to a specific purpose. Of course you may also wish to contribute to Haiti relief through Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee, Oxfam or other non-profit aid organizations. You can check online for information about their emergency work and how to contribute.