Hurricane Response

The official annual hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin is from June 1 to November 30 each year. The strongest storm so far of the 2019 season has been Hurricane Dorian, which, at its peak, was a powerful Category 5 storm.

How you can help:

Update: Brethren Disaster Ministries has approved initial grants of $10,000 each to three organizations for relief and recovery from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

  • Church World Service (CWS) is part of the ACT Alliance and is sending staff to be part of a rapid assessment team which will determine needs and a long-term recovery strategy.
  • Mercy Chefs is a faith-based organization which is providing emergency nutritious food based on the local diet for displaced families, including children in Children’s Hostel, and water filtration units to provide potable water. CDS staff experienced Mercy Chef’s excellent work in Florida after Hurricane Irma.
  • Feed the Children is dedicated to ending childhood hunger and as such has already established partners in the Bahamas through which it is working. Through these partners they are coordinating a large scale relief program providing meals in the Bahamas and shipping food and supplies from the U.S. They will continue programming to support long-term recovery.

Brethren Disaster Ministries Hurricane Dorian response

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), a program of Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM), deploys volunteers to set up childcare centers and provide a calm, safe and secure presence for children amid the chaos of a disaster. As Hurricane Dorian moved toward the U.S., the American Red Cross requested that CDS deploy two teams to provide childcare in evacuation centers in North Carolina. Two additional teams were on stand-by for immediate deployment in South Carolina. As the impact of the storm was thankfully less than expected, the South Carolina teams were not deployed and the North Carolina teams were needed for only a few days. CDS is on alert to provide care for children from the Bahamas at relocation centers in the U.S. or in the Bahamas, if requested by partners. For up-to-date information please visit the CDS Facebook page or contact cds@brethren.org.

BDM monitored Hurricane Dorian’s progress as it moved across the southern Atlantic Ocean. The Church of the Brethren does not have a presence in Bahamas, but is identifying partners to work with who are planning emergency response efforts and/or long-term recovery there, including fellow members of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) and Church World Service (CWS). BDM staff are also seeking to identify ways that BDM and its volunteers can support immediate clean-up and future rebuilding efforts in areas impacted by Dorian in the U.S., in coordination with Church of the Brethren leaders, CWS and other church and local partners.For up-to-date information please visit the BDM Facebook page or contact bdm@brethren.org.

The Church of the Brethren Material Resources warehouse, located at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is preparing shipments of CWS hygiene and school kits, clean up buckets and other materials to the areas affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Long-term hurricane/storm response

The past four years have seen the appearance of many small storms as well as six massive hurricanes: Matthew (2016); Harvey, Irma and Maria (2017); Florence (2018) and now Dorian in 2019. BDM and CDS have been, and are, responding to these storms by serving the needs of survivors, both for the short and the long-term. Up-to-date information is available on the BDM and CDS Facebook pages.

The BDM Rebuilding program focuses on domestic, long-term rebuilding through local long-term recovery groups. The work of repairing and rebuilding homes after a disaster can last for years. Long after emergency rescues are made, shelters are closed, and the media has left, Brethren Disaster Ministries and BDM volunteers continue to support the most vulnerable disaster survivors. Currently, our projects and volunteers are continuing to focus on serving the survivors of Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Florence (2018) in North and South Carolina, Hurricane Irma (2017) in the Jacksonville, Fla., area and Hurricane Maria (2017) in Puerto Rico. For information about current opportunities to volunteer to serve disaster survivors now, contact Terry Goodger at tgoodger@brethren.org or 410-635-8730. BDM remains in communication with long-term recovery groups and partners is storm-affected communities to identify future project sites.

How to help after a hurricane

Immediately after a disaster, compassionate people are eager to help. See the box on this page for ideas. Cash donations, rather than material donations, provide flexibility so resources can be used most effectively. Donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund will assist BDM’s programming and its support for the work of trusted partners.

Many people want to volunteer. However, spontaneous volunteers can become a huge burden on people and resources and may be turned away by local law enforcement. It is best to affiliate with existing voluntary organizations which have been specifically asked to respond.

BDM is in communication with trusted partners who are doing assessments and gearing up to support Hurricane Dorian affected areas in the Bahamas and U.S. BDM is tracking these organizations for possible volunteer opportunities for clean-up activities in the coming weeks. Reach out to BDM for more information.

Hurricane Dorian, August–September 2019

Hurricane Dorian strengthened from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane shortly before it moved northwest toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on August 28, 2019. These islands were affected by the rain and winds but did not receive a direct hit. The Church of the Brethren Puerto Rico district disaster coordinator, José Acevedo, reported that the churches and the BDM project in Castañer fared well during the storm.

By the time Hurricane Dorian reached the Bahamas on September 1, it was a Category 5 storm. It is tied for the second-strongest storm, as judged by its maximum sustained winds, ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean (behind Hurricane Allen of 1980) and tied for the strongest Atlantic hurricane at landfall. Hurricane Dorian caused massive destruction on the Abaco Island group and Grand Bahama Islands in the Bahamas. It stalled over Grand Bahama Island for forty hours. The death toll is expected to be in the many hundreds or more as many thousands are still reported missing. As many as 13,000 houses may have been severely damaged or destroyed. Financial losses could surpass $7 billion.

The storm finally moved northwest toward Florida and then, began traveling up the east coast of the U.S. as a strong Category 2 storm, bringing excessive rainfall, storm surges and destructive winds which also spawned multiple tornadoes. It made a brief landfall in Cape Hatteras, N.C., as a Category 1 storm. The states most affected by Hurricane Dorian included Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina and Virginia.