Local Catholics give generously to 2017 hurricane relief

Liz Vestal looks at her destroyed home in Rockport, Texas, Sept. 8, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Being an inland state, Kansas doesn’t get too many hurricanes. Usually, the most we experience are the occasional tropical storm or depression — like Bill, in 2015.

Despite this, Kansas Catholics are very much involved with hurricane relief.

When three major hurricanes struck Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made formal emergency collection appeals.

Catholics of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas responded, donating $520,209 to Catholic Charities USA for hurricane relief.

Additionally, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas sent $18,142 to three sister Catholic Charities agencies in Houston/Galveston, Miami and Puerto Rico for local hurricane relief.

Archdiocesan funds taken up by the special collections are still trickling in.

Donations from the archdiocese were added to those given by Catholics from all over the United States.

“To date, we have received $33.5 million for Hurricane Harvey, nearly $11.3 for Hurricane Irma, just under $4.6 million for Hurricane Maria, and $2.67 million for [the] Mexico earthquakes,” said Mary Mencarini Campbell, executive director of the USCCB Office of National Collections.

“These funds will be used for both humanitarian relief and long-term recovery needs, as well as for church repair and rebuilding, and program support,” she said.

Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 storm that lasted from Aug. 17-Sept. 1. It made landfall between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas, on Aug. 26. It flooded Houston, Galveston and several other towns. It killed 90 people in the United States and caused an estimated $125 billion in damage.

Next was Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that lasted from Aug. 30 to Sept. 12. It drove over Cuba, landed on Cudjoe Key of the Florida Keys, and then continued to Marcos Island, Florida. It killed 100 people in the United States.

Finally, there was Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that lasted from Sept. 16-30. Its eyewall made landfall at Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 20. Estimated damages vary widely from between $16 and $95 billion. The official death toll was 71 (64 on Puerto Rico), but at least 985 additional people died in the 40 days after the hurricane, which is a higher total death toll than for all of 2016.

Those still wishing to can still donate. Send checks to: Catholic Church Offices, 12615 Parallel Pkwy., Kansas City, KS 66109.

Make checks out to: The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Be sure to designate which hurricane you would like the donation applied to on the memo line, or whether it should be split between all three.

Dennis Sadowski from Catholic News Service contributed to this story.

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