Coming together to help those impacted by the ‘Blizzard of the Century’ Part II—The work ahead
Editor’s Note: This is part II of an article about conversations had at a Zoom meeting hosted by Upper New York Area Resident Bishop, Héctor A. Burgos To read about the devastation Buffalo-area churches experienced and God sightings, click here to read Part I.
During Upper New York Area Resident Bishop, Héctor A. Burgos Núñez’s blizzard of the century Zoom meeting on Jan. 6, 2023, many participants mentioned the need for a taskforce to tackle the multiple issues to address in the event of the storm:
Who is FEMA trained?
What food pantries need to be replenished?
Who has the skills to file insurance claims?
Who can provide counseling?
Where are the nearest warming stations?
Who has a generator we can use?
Ebony White, a parishioner at Lincoln Memorial UMC said, “In less than two weeks, 47 lives have been lost because of this storm. We have been dealing with so much since the mass shooting (at the Tops Supermarket in May 2022). One of the 10 victims was my uncle. We need to build strategies for times like this. People need blankets; we need generators for power outages. We need a plan!”
People will need help with funerals, burial expenses, and insurance claims. Many of the people in Buffalo have been traumatized and can benefit from counseling.
The Rev. Heather Stierheim said, “So many people are being re-traumatized after the May shooting and then the November blizzard, and now this.”
Social justice concerns
There are also justice issues that need to be addressed.
The Rev. Mary Kelly, pastor at Central Park UMC in Buffalo said, “There are many justice issues that need our attention and prayers. The level of sub-standard housing in our community is unbelievable! One of our parishioners said, ‘We got really cold because most of our windows are broken.’ That’s a problem!”
Rev. Stierheim echoed Rev. Kelly’s comments; she said, “We need to push in some public policies that address these injustices. We need to use our voice as a Conference.”
Kristina Clark agreed with the comments about injustices, and stated, “We definitely have power in numbers with our voices!”
The Rev. Dr. Aaron Bouwens closed the gathering with a prayer, asking God to help us dig deeper than the immediate repairs needed from the storm and to work to help those who are oppressed.
Continue to pray for our siblings in Christ, impacted by this storm and systems of oppression.
If your church was impated by the storm, click here to fill out a form expressing assistance with relief cleanup, replenishing food pantry, or other needs.
Click here to give a financial contribution to help with everything from replenishing food pantries to funeral expenses. The Conference goal is to match the UMCOR grant of $10,000.
If you can offer services that you feel may benefit communities affected by this blizzard, contact Kristina Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.