Helping Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Pop-up rescue aids storm victims: Knowing Hurricane Sandy victims are in need, a group of Staten Island Catholic friends have organized a 24-hour neighborhood resource center.

Millions of people in the United States and the Caribbean were impacted by the powerful storm Sandy that battered coastal regions in late October, 2012.  In the aftermath of the storm, relief and rebuilding efforts continue.

Nearly 1,000 miles wide, Sandy's strong gales reached to the Great Lakes. The storm caused at least 113 deaths in seven states and destroyed many homes and businesses.

In the Caribbean, government officials put the death toll across the islands at 69, with more than 50 in Haiti, where widespread flooding devastated parts of the already impoverished country.

This Christmas, many Catholics along the Northeast coast may not have a service to attend or a church to worship at.  With this in mind, the U.S. Catholic bishops and dioceses all over the country are taking up a special collection during the Advent season to aid U.S. victims of Hurricane Sandy.  Watch your local Mass schedule for second collection information or contact your (arch)diocese.

Additionally, there are several other ways to help Sandy victims.  You can make a donation to Catholic Charities USA's 2012 Disaster Fund to assist domestic relief efforts.  For those countries most affected in the Caribbean region — Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas — a donation to Catholic Relief Services will help as the agency and its partners in the Caribbean assess the damage and provide relief supplies.

"Conscious of the devastation caused by the hurricane which recently struck the East Coast of the United States of America, I offer my prayers for the victims and express my solidarity with all those engaged in the work of rebuilding." - Pope Benedict XVI, October 31, 2012 general audience.

Another way you can help is to donate blood if you are able.  Sandy caused the cancellation of about 350 American Red Cross blood drives and more cancellations are expected due to continued power outages and transportation issues.  To locate a blood drive in your area, contact your local Red Cross or area hospitals

Your prayers can also help.  Here are some suggested scripture readings that will help you reflect on the suffering of the storm's victims and focus on the hope of eternal life in Christ.

Psalm 91
Wisdom 3:1-3
John 11:25-26
John 14:2-6
Romans 6:3-5, 9-11
Revelation 12:4

God of all mercies, God of all consolation,
comfort us in our afflictions
that we might comfort those who are in trouble
with the same consolation we have received.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.

—from Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers, Prayer in Time of Suffering and Need.