Photo Credit: Alexander Gerst / ESA / NASA
Dioceses and congregations of the US-based Episcopal Church along the Carolina coast and further inland are offering guidance, resources and prayers to Episcopalians in the line of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall earlier today, bringing destructive winds, waves and rain. It is one of a number of responses to a range of extreme storms lashing countries from the Pacific to the Atlantic. In the Philippines, churches and schools are being used as evacuation centres as Typhoon Mangkhut wreaks havoc. Mangkhut is also affecting the Marshall Islands and the Mariana Islands.
The eye of Florence is on track to pass over or near Wilmington, North Carolina, with hurricane-force sustained winds before making its way across South Carolina and weakening over the next few days, according to a forecast from the US National Hurricane Centre. Authorities warn the worst damage could be from storm surge on the coast and steady rain, which have the potential to cause dangerous flooding.
“Hurricane Florence is an uninvited guest, but she is just about here anyway,” Governor Roy Cooper said Thursday morning, according to the Wilmington Star News. “My message today: Don’t relax. Don’t become complacent. This is a powerful storm that can kill. Today, the threat becomes a reality.”
Episcopalians are taking that threat seriously. Services and church activities have been cancelled from the Episcopal Church in Okatie, South Carolina, near the Georgia state line to St Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, North Carolina. Diocesan officials have been in contact with Episcopal Relief & Development and are communicating emergency info to their church members. And many Episcopalians on the coast have heeded evacuation orders or else are hunkering down as the storm approaches.
“There seems little doubt that Hurricane Florence is going to have a tremendous impact across the communities of our diocese, and many are projecting that it will be the most devastating storm that our state has experienced in decades,” East Carolina Bishop Robert Skirving said on Wednesday (12 September) in a letter to the diocese, which includes coastal North Carolina.
Florence and Mangkhut are just two of a number of storms, hurricanes and typhoons currently lashing land across the globe: Gordon is attacking the Greater Antilles, Cuba, The Bahamas, and the US; Helene is affecting West Africa, Cape Verde, and the Azores; Isaac is bearing down on West Africa and the Lesser Antilles; and Olivia is impacting Hawaii; and Barijat is impacting the Philippines, Taiwan, China and Vietnam. Joyce is currently gathering pace off the Azores.
A high definition camera outside the International Space Station captured this stark and sobering view of Hurricane Florence at 7.50 am EDT (11.52 am GMT) on Wednesday 12 September: