.- As Catholic Charities agencies respond in the aftermath of the hurricane and tropical storm Irene, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano of Burlington has expressed his âprayerful supportâ for Vermonters suffering the stormâs effects.
With the guidance of Vermont Catholic Charities, the Church in the state is assessing the extent of the stormâs devastation to determine the particular needs of the people, the Diocese of Burlington said on Aug. 30.
Irene dropped up to 11 inches of rain on Vermont over the weekend and caused normally small mountain streams to flood. The floodwaters smashed buildings and ripped homes from their foundations, surprising many.
As of Aug. 30, the death toll for Hurricane Irene stood at 42 people, and of that number, at least three were from Vermont.
The flooding caused by Irene has also isolated people, closing 260 roads and 30 highway bridges.
Vermont Catholic Charities has previously established a disaster relief fund and has asked for contributions to help Ireneâs victims.
âEvery dollar received will be distributed to those who have been adversely impacted by the storm,â the Diocese of Burlington said.
The East Coast agencies of Catholic Charities USA are assessing the damage of Hurricane Irene and are prepared to meet the food, shelter and other immediate and long-term needs of affected families and individuals.
âIn many ways, we were blessed--Irene came with less intensity and impact than what we expected, but there are still thousands of people dealing with power outages, property damage, and personal loss,â Kim Burgo, vice president of the national agencyâs disaster operations, said in an Aug. 30 statement.
Roger Conner, senior director of communications for Catholic Charities USA, told CNA the organization has been âvery busyâ in response to the storm.
He pointed out that Catholic Charities in the Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico have already helped respond to those affected there.
The organizationâs various agencies are âassessing the need and helping where we can, as we always do, in tandem with other agencies on the ground.â
Frank Morock, communications director with the Diocese of Raleigh, said the stormâs damage there was much less serious than it could have been.
However, there was âwidespread floodingâ in coastal areas and in some communities up to 100 miles inland. At least 18,000 homes and businesses were affected, hundreds of thousands of people have lost power, and roads have been washed out.
âDiocesan churches and schools fared well with only some minor roof leaks or flooded basements. Nothing extensive,â he said on Aug. 30.
North Carolina Catholic Charities offices are surveying parishes that experienced heavy wind and rain to determine the needs of local communities. The agencies are providing food vouchers for parishes to distribute to those in need.
National officials emphasized the organizationâs longstanding commitment to those in need of assistance.
âAs the nation moves on from this hurricane, and the headlines cover the next story, we cannot forget about the people that have been affected. Catholic Charities will be there to help,â Burgo said.
While Catholic Charities and organizations like the Red Cross are involved in immediate response, Conner said, Catholic Charities is âparticularly well knownâ for providing long-term aid.
âAfter immediate needs are met, there tend to be a lot of ongoing needs where peopleâs lives are affected,â he said.
Catholic Charities USA said that its resources have been âstrainedâ by numerous spring and summer disasters and asked people to donate to help those in need.