Impact of Hurricane Irene Not Over Yet
By Linda Unger*
August 30, 2011—As shelters that were opened along the New Jersey coast in advance of Hurricane Irene this past weekend now begin to close, new ones are opening further inland in anticipation of what may well be record flooding due to the storm and a summer of heavy rainfall.
“Some news reports are giving the impression Hurricane Irene was a non-event. In fact, there has been very significant flooding because of the storm, and it’s expected to continue for another couple of days,” said Cathy Earl, US Disaster Response executive for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
“Rivers are already overflowing their banks and local churches are already flooded,” reported Rev. Derrick Doherty, Disaster Response coordinator of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, which covers all of New Jersey plus portions of Pennsylvania and New York.
Doherty said that damage from Hurricane Irene to homes along the coast was minimal and mainly took the form of downed trees and loosened shingles. However, that is not expected to be the case further inland as rivers crest sometime between Monday and Wednesday evenings.
“Shelters are popping up all over the place,” Doherty said. “They’re closing on the coast and opening up inland in response to the flooding.”
Earl and Sandra Kennedy Owes, also an UMCOR Disaster Response executive, said that annual conferences from North Carolina to New England have reported significant flooding as a result of Hurricane Irene, which began its trek in the Caribbean as a Category 3 hurricane last week.
Over the weekend and today, UMCOR was in touch with Disaster Response personnel from eight conferences and has already responded to requests for emergency grants from five of them, including Greater New Jersey.
“The UMCOR grant will help The United Methodist Church in the Greater New Jersey Conference distribute cleaning buckets and provide training for Early Response Teams,” Doherty said. The first of the trainings will take place on Saturday at Central United Methodist Church in Linwood, NJ.
“We appreciate everyone’s prayers,” Doherty added. “If you are able to help, please check our conference website”— once electrical power is restored to the conference offices and to the state’s other 500,000 residents who are currently in the dark.
The impact of Hurricane Irene continues in states all along the eastern seaboard. Learn how you can provide cleaning buckets here. Your gift to US Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #901670, will help relief and recovery efforts.
*Linda Unger is UMCOR staff editor and senior writer.