After a week of preparation, it appears that much of South Carolina could dodge most of the more direct effects of Hurricane Irma, a deadly Category 5 hurricane that has wrought destruction throughout the Caribbean Sea and is now bearing down on our neighbors in Florida.
However, all of our state is not out of the potential path of danger, with some southern coastal communities vulnerable to storm surge flooding and more at risk for tropical storm-force winds, tornadoes and heavy rains.
We must remain vigilant, as – even with today’s remarkable tracking technology – hurricanes remain unpredictable, and Irma’s track could change in a matter of hours.
Even if we and our own homes and communities appear to be safe, we must keep watch for those who remain in harm’s way, both here and to our south and west; stay prepared to help keep safe evacuees who have sought refuge in our state or who are passing through to other shelter; and remain determined to walk beside those whose lives and property could be devastated in the coming days.
I ask you to join me in continuing to pray for families who are impacted by this storm. Pray for first responders and all those who put themselves in harm’s way to care for the vulnerable. Pray for God’s sustaining grace through it all.
Please give generously of your financial resources, but resist the temptation to make unsolicited donations of things like clothing and food. Respond only to identified needs.
And consider being trained and volunteering for recovery efforts through the Disaster Response and Disaster Recovery ministries of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission. Consider offering your time and talents to those efforts.
Please remember that we are a connectional church, and we are not alone as we seek to respond faithfully to communities in crisis.
Grace and peace,
L, Jonathan Holston
South Carolina Conference
The United Methodist Church