Hurricane Ian made landfall near Ft. Myers, Florida, on Wednesday, September 28th, as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds at 150 mph and a storm surge of seven feet. By all measures, this storm was a beast and one of the worst ever to make landfall in Florida. In its wake, 2.3 million customers were left without power, and many homes and businesses were flooded, damaged, or completely destroyed. Worst of all, over 100 lives were lost. The storm continued across Florida, dumping 16 to 29 inches of rain before heading back to the Atlantic, regaining strength, and hitting the coast of South Carolina as a Category 1 storm. By now, most of us have seen the heartbreaking photos and videos of the destruction left in Ian’s wake.
Scientists at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory are studying the effects of changes in global weather on the frequency and intensity of tropical hurricanes and cyclones. While more research is needed, the models suggest that increasing global temperatures will likely lead to increased rainfall rates and higher storm intensities associated with these storms. As believers, we need to do our part to ensure that we care for the earth and are prepared to offer help when disasters like Hurricane Ian strike.
Called to love
As Christ followers, what should our response be to these terrible events? When asked which commandment is the most important, Jesus responded, “The most important one is this: ‘… Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12:29-30 NIV) Just as the Good Samaritan stopped and rendered aid to a stranger in need, we too are told by Jesus to “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)
How can we help?
When calamities like Hurricane Ian beat and batter, our “neighbors” are the folks who have suffered loss and have been left in need. Today, charities, churches, and faith-based groups are on the ground in Florida and South Carolina, helping with clean-up and offering aid to the victims of this devastating storm — some groups clearing debris and others providing shelter, meals, medical care, and clean water. If you can, reach out and connect with groups like the American Red Cross Volunteer Match, The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), and Samaritan’s Purse to find out how to help with disaster clean-up and assist victims.
If you cannot help directly with relief and clean-up efforts, there are many other ways to contribute. Financial donations can be made to notable faith-based disaster relief groups like Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Blessing, The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Episcopal Relief and Development, and God’s Pit Crew. The American Red Cross is another excellent relief organization that provides food, shelter, and medical care for disaster victims, and American Humane provides rescue operations and care for animals affected by the storm.
If you are unable to give financially, there are still ways that you can extend the love of Christ to those in need.
- Organize a donation drive with your local church to collect monetary donations, clothing, baby items, food, and bottled water to send to churches in the areas affected by the storm.
- Visit your local blood bank and donate blood. During times of crisis, blood banks are in desperate need, and your donation could save someone’s life.
- Commit to fast and pray for those impacted by Hurricane Ian and those who have volunteered to help.
As we reach out in compassion to help those whose lives have been impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Ian, we demonstrate God’s love to our neighbors and fellow citizens, and it’s as though we are doing it for our Lord.
“For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ … ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:35-36, 40 NLT)