San Diego MCC extends help to Puerto Rico’s MCC churchesAround the City, Latest Issue Thursday, October 12th, 2017
The congregations of two Metropolitan Community Churches in Puerto Rico have been hit hard by Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.
Most in the congregations are homeless,” said Jude Litzenberger, an MCC official who addressed the congregation Sunday as they took an offering to help the people and pastors in Puerto Rico.
The pastor of the MCC in San Juan has been sleeping in his car after his house was severely damaged Sept. 20 in the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory since 1932. The power and running water stopped during the storm and only a small percentage of utility services have been restored.
The island is truly devastated and the aftermath is brutal. I don’t think anybody, or any country, can really prepare for a hurricane level 5,” said Raul, a MCC member whose comments were sent out in group emails to MCC for assistance.
“I’m unsure of the safety of the tap water. We have access to running water twice a day,” wrote Gail. “The water that runs has a strong chemical smell, hopefully as a result of the cleaning process. We’re sticking to bottled water for drinking purposes, or Capri Sun as bottled water is difficult to find.”
“People are sleep deprived in the heat. We hear that one or two areas have electricity … A friend on Facebook wrote of someone who died as a result of not receiving dialysis,” said Gail.
The church building in Rio Piedras, a neighborhood in the capital San Juan, is still standing with some damages. The second MCC church was in someone’s home which was damaged, said Litzenberger.
For many days, aid packages from the U.S. stayed at ports because there was a lack of vehicles with gasoline and people that could distribute it. Lengthy gas lines, sometimes going six hours long, were everywhere.
President Donald Trump visited the island for four hours Oct. 3, and praised federal rescue efforts. He told Puerto Ricans they should feel “very proud” the death toll in Puerto Rico was at 16, which actually doubled to 32 the next day. Trump compared Puerto Rico’s plight to the devastation of New Orleans in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina which he called “a real catastrophe” that claimed 1,800 lives.
Widely distributed photos showed Trump tossing paper towels like they were basketballs into a crowd. As he handed out flashlights, Trump said to people “you don’t really need them” as he apparently thought the power had been restored. Trump said Puerto Ricans had been influenced by “fake news” on their televisions and Internet that he said minimized federal efforts to help them.
“Things are far from better, and definitely the rural areas are still in worst condition than the metropolitan area, but here where I live, a small sliver of hope can be felt tonight,” wrote Raul to MCC.
People who wish to donate to MCCs and congregations in Puerto Rico can contact MCC San Diego.
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