RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) — In the days and weeks since Hurricane Florence made landfall in mid-September, North Carolina residents are still coping with the massive amounts of water from the storm and the subsequent flooding of the state’s rivers.
Families have been displaced by these rising waters and 27 churches or parish facilities in the Raleigh Diocese have been damaged.
An update on the recovery on the diocesan website of Raleigh notes: “Hurricane Florence devastated our community, but together as a community we are recovering! Catholic Charities has been leading the recovery effort. They began providing assistance before the rain even stopped in Wilmington.”
Daniel Altenau, director of communications and disaster services for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, said that days after the storm, local Catholic Charities volunteers loaded up a truck with diapers and supplies and began distributing items to families in need.
Catholic Charities also has held more than 30 events for unloading, sorting and distributing supplies such as food and water, cleaning supplies and hygiene kits for families in the Cape Fear area.
Websites for parishes in the Raleigh Diocese also indicate the extent of storm damage and recovery. The website of Annunciation Parish in Havelock notes that the church “sustained quite a bit of water damage” but would be resuming Masses the weekend of Sept. 29-30.
The website of St. Paul in New Bern includes a graphic on the top of the page with the words “Hurricane Florence.”
In a message to parishioners, Father Thomas Tully, pastor, provides information about where people can get help and what they can do to help. He said currently clothing donations have exceeded warehouse space and urged parishioners to “continue to collect clothing but hold onto it” until a new place can be found to collect it. He also announced that Catholic Charities has opened a laundry trailer in New Bern where there are three washers and dryers available.
The original parish church, Old St. Paul Church, suffered hurricane damage from wind and rain but escaped the storm surge. Mass is still celebrated every Friday at the church, which was built in 1840-1841 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A GoFundMe page was set up to raise money to do necessary repairs to keep the church fully operational and had raised $725 as of Sept. 27.
The website for All Saints Church in Hampstead also announced that the normal Mass schedule was resuming the weekend of Sept. 29-30. A note from staff members said the parish’s two locations sustained some property damage and parish officials have been working with the dioceses and insurers about it.
“Please check in on your neighbors near and far and remember in these trying times that your parish family is united with you through the love of Jesus,” the message adds.
The website also makes a plea for donations of nonperishable food items and cleaning supplies and said these items would be donated to parishioners in need.
It asked parishioners to “check in on your neighbors, particularly the elderly and sick who may be more susceptible to extreme conditions. Those who evacuated check to see if you can bring anything to your neighbors who have been stuck for several days.”
The site also provides multiple links for assistance and steps to follow to report water damage.
Bishop Zarama asks for prayers
A statement from Raleigh Bishop Luis R. Zarama posted on the diocesan website days after the storm said: “We have seen the heartbreaking photographs and video reports of those who have been impacted so severely by the wind, rain and flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.”
He also asked for prayers for “those who have lost their lives, those who have been injured, and for those who have lost homes and possessions. I also ask for prayers for the brave first responders who have been so helpful in the rescue and relief.”
“This is a time for our Catholic community to come together and to assist our neighbors in North Carolina who are in most need,” he added.