July 8, 2016 (Baltimore, MD) — As torrential rain pummeled parts of West Virginia and threatened a new round of flooding, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) remains on the ground providing emotional and spiritual care and deploying IOCC volunteer clean-up crews to the hard hit towns of Clendenin and Rainelle.
His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic visited the affected area to offer encouragement to parishioners impacted by the floods and called upon the Orthodox faithful to extend a helping hand to their neighbors in need by supporting IOCC’s flood relief efforts. “From the very beginning of Our Lord’s ministry, the Church has existed both as a community and within a community,” stated Bishop Thomas. “In these roles, there are a variety of activities that the parish Church undertakes, both in terms of liturgical services and in charitable work and outreach. If there is liturgy without outreach, then we fail, since “faith without works is dead,” but if we have outreach without liturgy, we also fail, since “man is not justified by works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ.”
In addition, a generous gift of $25,000 from the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, presented to IOCC at the Philoptochos National Conference yesterday in Nashville, will provide further support for flood relief to affected families. IOCC Frontliners, a team of trained emergency responders, will continue assisting FEMA and the local Red Cross by providing crisis counseling to survivors at the FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers and relief distribution centers. IOCC volunteers, in collaboration with Mennonite Disaster Services, will spend the weekend removing debris from homes and addressing immediate needs during the clean up and recovery stages. IOCC is also participating in early stages of the long-term recovery committee being established by community leaders in Greenbriar County and the West Virginia Voluntary Agencies Active in Disaster (VOAD).
Reverend Father Andrew Lentz, an IOCC Frontliner from Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Akron, Ohio, is among the early responders providing emotional and spiritual comfort to flood victims. He also blessed the fire trucks used in the rescue of the residents in the hardest hit flood zones. “I was reminded by the FEMA head of the Disaster Recovery Center in Rainelle that, ‘While every disaster has its own character, this one is very personal; these are very close communities and nobody is left untouched by the devastation,'” Father Andrew stated. “Many people we met wanted to know, ‘Why me? Why did this happen?’ All we can do as Frontliners is be present with them and help them carry their burden in that moment.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Make a donation. You can help the victims of disasters in the United States, like the West Virginia floods, by making a financial gift to the United States Emergency Response Fund. Your support will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit iocc.org, call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, MD 21297-0429.
Assemble emergency kits. IOCC also anticipates the need for Emergency Clean-Up Buckets which are in low supply. For directions on how to assemble Emergency Clean-Up Buckets, please visitiocc.org/kits.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHARITIES
IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered $580 million in relief and development programs to families and communities in more than 50 countries. IOCC is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy. To learn more about IOCC, please visit our website at iocc.org.
CAPTION 1: Orthodox Church Deacon Constantine Shepherd, an IOCC Frontliner, assesses extensive property damage to a community church along the main street in Rainelle, West Virginia. IOCC is on the ground responding to the immediate needs of families impacted by devastating floods in the region. photo: Marilyn Brady
CAPTION 2: IOCC Frontliner and Church Deacon Constantine Shepherd joins Rainelle Mayor Andrea “Andy” Pendleton for an inventory check of relief items at a distribution site in the West Virginia town. IOCC is working with community leaders and relief partners to provide assistance to for families impacted by severe flooding in the state. photo: Marilyn Brady
High-res images available upon request.