What began the hurricane season as one isolated storm that devastated Houston, Texas, became a year of firsts as the U.S. mainland and territory of Puerto Rico were the latest in a line of record-breaking natural disasters. When the fury was ended, not only lives were lost, but also damage was felt by LGBTQ community centers, news organizations and other establishments. Add to that wide-spread fires across the West that took property and laid the land to a charred landscape.
For Houston, The Montrose Center marked the first blow to the LGBTQ community’s support system. After Hurricane Harvey engulfed the Gulf city, the world came to the rescue and started sending in funds and supplies, as well as people power to help rebuild what was lost. (See goqnotes.com/53040 for earlier coverage.)
Then Irma set her sites on the southern region of North America’s Atlantic Ocean and tore through island and after island until it overpowered the Florida Keys and majority of the state. LGBTQ community centers in the Sunshine State became the next victims.
Right on its heels, Maria dealt her blow to the already devastated islands of the Caribbean and left Puerto Rico in shambles, without power, water and more.
Not only community centers were affected. LGBTQ newspaper offices were flooded in Texas and Florida. And, getting out the news to the community was met with delays, as staff worked from home or elsewhere as waters receded and offices could be reclaimed and rehabilitated.
And, of course, to add insult to injury, Mexico was deluged with earthquakes that took lives as well.
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Metropolitan Community Churches sent out a call for its members and others to mourn those lost to these disasters and join in support as solitary forces began to help those in their respective areas and in the church’s world.
“Our churches in Texas, Florida, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic (where we still have groups linked to MCC), Honduras, Puebla MX, Veracruz MX, Mexico City have survived these attacks of nature without deaths among their membership, although with some impact to their infrastructures (houses and temples). Due to the heavy floods caused by María, our pastor at MCC Cristo Sanador, George Gonzalez Medrano, has no access to his home,” MCC shared.
Reconciling Ministries Network also sent out prayers of hope to its masses.
Relief efforts from the hurricanes have been escalated by CenterLink, which is working with centers in Houston and Puerto Rico. CenterLink is also raising funds for resources needed in the wake of the storms, including batteries, flashlights, a generator for Centro Comunitario LGBTT de Puerto Rico in San Juan, non-perishable food and other hard-to-come-by essentials for community members.