Florida continues rescue efforts as Hurricane Ian heads north

By RHINA GUIDOS

Authorities in Florida continued their rescue efforts on September 30, and Catholic parishes and dioceses across the United States moved quickly to raise aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, with President Joe Biden saying the rebuilding what had been destroyed could take years.

Although Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm after destroying swaths of Florida, it regained strength and regrouped into a hurricane before tracking into South Carolina. Biden approved an emergency declaration to send federal aid before it makes landfall in Charleston on September 30.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, will hold a special collection in its parishes in October to help repair the damage, including in the neighboring Diocese of Venice, and is asking others to help https://www.dosp.org/disasterrelief.

“Our hearts are moved with compassion for all those who suffered damage and destruction from Hurricane Ian, especially our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Venice,” said Bishop of St. Petersburg, Gregory L. Parkes, on the diocese that bore the brunt of Hurricane Ian. the damage.

At least 21 deaths were confirmed as of noon Sept. 30, though Biden said Sept. 29 authorities suspected there would be “substantial loss of life.”

On September 30, he pleaded with those in the Carolinas about to face the hurricane’s wrath to heed the warnings. He told Floridians the federal government would do everything possible to help, especially with saving people and other recovery efforts. He also announced that 44,000 utility workers were working to restore power for the more than 2 million people who have been without power since the hurricane hit.

“This is not a Florida crisis, this is an American crisis,” Biden said at the press conference.

He said the situation on the ground was “much more devastating” than initially thought and “is likely to rank among the worst in the country’s history”.

In the Diocese of Venice, Bishop Frank J. Dewane thanked via Twitter those who prayed for people in the hurricane’s path.

“The damage is still being assessed, but it is clear that the devastation in the diocese is widespread,” he wrote. “There are several teams already at work across the diocese, and Catholic Charities is putting its local team into action. We are grateful to everyone who has helped and continues to help during this difficult time. »

Catholic Charities USA collects donations to https://ccusa.online/Ian.

In Charleston, South Carolina, Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune offered Mass a few hours before the storm made landfall “for the protection of all affected by Hurricane Ian and especially for our essential personnel working in our safety,” the diocese said on its Facebook page.

Ian hit near 2:30 p.m. local time on September 30 as a Category 1 hurricane, flooding historic Charleston, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.

—SNC

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