Hurricane Isaac made landfall last night as a slow moving Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 40 to 80 miles per hour. While it only is producing Category 1 winds, it is a large and wide ranging storm with a significant storm surge that will continue to produce drenching rains from the Florida panhandle to the eastern coast of Texas. The storm is extremely slow moving and is still over the Louisiana coast where it continues to sustain its energy from the waters of the gulf.
The continued storm surge combined with high tides will significantly add to the coastal flooding. Damage assessments cannot start until to storm moves past the coast. As it moves north, heavy rains can be expected to cause significant inland flooding. It is also not uncommon for tornadoes to spin off from a hurricane.
The town of Plaquemines, La., (south of Baton Rouge) has been flooded when Mississippi River waters overtopped the town’s levee. Residents are reporting as much as 12 feet of water in their homes. Rescue operations are underway. Mass care sheltering operations are up and running in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Power outages are reported in several states. As many as 500,000 customers have lost power in Louisiana; it will take several days before power is restored. Earlier heavy rains from Isaac drenched parts of Florida and surveys are underway there to determine the storm’s impact. There was flash flooding on the eastern coast of Florida and some storm surge flooding on the western coast.
United Church of Christ Global Sharing of Resources staff are monitoring the progress of Tropical Storm Isaac and reaching out to partners and colleagues to offer assistance in the wake of the storm.
Tropical Storm Isaac struck the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba over the weekend and has continued into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the U.S. Gulf Coast. The Associated Press has reported eight fatalities in Haiti and two in the Dominican Republic. Winds and flooding have destroyed and damaged tents that still house some survivors of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. There are news reports of damaged homes, flooding and mudslides in Port-au-Prince, but the damage to structures in the city is not extreme. All Global Ministries personnel are safe and CONASPEH, our Global Ministries partner is assessing the damage and preparing for response. In northwestern Haiti, where Church World Service (CWS) supports agricultural cooperatives, winds and rain have damaged houses, destroyed gardens and killed livestock. The poor construction of houses in this region has increased the impact of the disaster, with roofs blowing off and other serious structural damage.
In the Dominican Republic, the southwestern region was the most affected. The winds knocked down many trees and severely affected agricultural areas, such as banana plantations. The storm surge cut off a highway and downed electrical and telephone lines, cutting power to most of this region. In Cuba, Isaac struck the entire country and was especially intense in the east. Many families in vulnerable areas weathered the storm with friends or in storm shelters. Global Ministries nor CWS has received reports of serious damage in Cuba.
Isaac is now expected to intensify to hurricane strength and impact the U.S. Gulf Coast this week. A hurricane warning is in effect from the Florida Panhandle to Louisiana, including New Orleans. FEMA is warning that southeast Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama could see storm surges of 6 to 12 feet. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have all declared states of emergency.
Our partners at Church World Service currently have staff on the ground gathering more information from our partners in Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic regarding local needs. CWS will monitor the continued impact of Isaac and respond to immediate and long-term needs. We have also been in touch with the Latin American-Caribbean office of Global Ministries, and they are connecting with their partners in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to assess local needs.
UCC National Disaster Ministries has contacted Conference Disaster Coordinators in the predicted path of the storm, who are working with their churches, local disaster prevention systems, and other networks to make sure plans are made and needs are met, should the storm continue its current trajectory.
Week of Compassion has been in touch with Vance Moore, a Regional Pastor for the Great River Region, which includes Mississippi and Louisiana. According to Vance, our churches and their members have not sustained physical damage, but remain “hunkered down,” as the forecast calls for heavy rain over the next 36-48 hours. We will remain in contact with the GRR as the storm continues, keeping an eye on communities in its path. John Mobley, Regional Minister in Alabama-Northwest Florida, also reported no needs emerging out of the coastal areas drenched by Isaac’s rain.
Our partners at Church World Service have dispatched Emergency Response Specialists to work with state, regional and local VOADs (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), partner denominations and other agencies to assess needs and determine how to respond. CWS will provide material resources, including blankets, hygiene kits and clean-up buckets, as requested. Response Specialists will also assist communities in developing long-term recovery plans, providing technical and financial support, as possible.
Both patience and preparedness are encouraged. Though media reports are serving as a constant reminder that the storm will likely land in the New Orleans Area on Wednesday, marking the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Josh Baird, our colleague with Disciples Volunteering reminds us that "Caution, preparedness, and evacuation are appropriate; alarm is not." There are still variables that may affect the path of the storm. No matter the scale of Isaac, One Great Hour of Sharing will respond through our trusted partners, and we will meet needs as they arise.
While we wait for more information, the best thing we can do is calmly prepare, gather information, and reach out. Through your generosity, we are, as a church, able to do precisely that.
How You Can Help
1. Pray for the people and communities impacted by Tropical Storm Isaac and those serving as first responder emergency personnel.
2. Make a gift through One Great Hour of Sharing or Week of Compassion
5. Assemble Church World Service clean up and hygiene kits which are urgently needed.
| Messages from Global Ministries Partners
Nous suivons avec angoisse et peine à travers les médias,les désastres causés par le cyclonne Isaac. Nous sommes avec vous en prière. J'ai démandé à tous nos P.S P. de faire des chaines de prière pour le peuple americaine en général et en particulier aux victimes du cyclones. Que Jésus Christ nous vienne en aide.
REV G NGOKA
We have followed the news with sadness and grief of the disaster caused by Hurricane Issac. We are with you in prayer. I have asked all our regional ministers to start a prayer chain for the American people in general and in particular for the victims of the hurricane/tropical
storm. May Jesus Christ be our help.
Rev. Georges Ngoka
President and Legal Representative
Church of Disciples of Christ
Brazzaville, Republic of Congo