AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Catholic Church mobilises to provide food, facilities, medical services for Gulf Coast people displaced by huricane Katrina

Friday, 2 September 2005

Rome (Fides Service) - Following the devastating Hurricane Katrina Catholic Church facilities throughout the United States, and especially in Louisiana, Mississippi and East Texas, are responding to emergency and long-term needs by providing shelters, food, medicine and schooling for thousands of refugees. Catholic institutions, St Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic schools, hospitals, parishes have opened their premises to shelter the displaced and provide food and medical assistance. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference has launched nation wide collection of funds in aid of the disaster victims.
The archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (Texas) is offering shelter and economic aid to over 30.000 homeless people from New Orleans and other dioceses in the Gulf Coast region. St Vincent de Paul Society has launched an urgent appeal for clothing and other necessary aid to meet the emergency. Catholic schools from across the nation are opening their doors to students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas, where well over 30,000 storm refugees relocated from New Orleans and other Gulf Coast dioceses, is providing immediate monetary aid and housing. The local Catholic hospital, Christus St. Joseph, mobilized its mobile health unit to assist at shelters. Catholic schools in the archdiocese are accepting displaced students and allowing them to register without transcripts or other transfer papers.
The Diocese of Tyler, Texas, which was about to launch a Catholic Charities office for the diocese, was prompted by the storm to begin its operations immediately. Tyler diocesan parishes began reaching out to refugees who moved into the diocese the weekend before the storm as reports of the in-coming hurricane were received.. Numerous parishioners opened their homes, provided food, fuel, phone and gift cards for storm refugees. Also in the diocese of Beaumont parishes are helping the displaced families.
St. Petersburg diocese, Florida, was accepting patients into its Catholic hospital system and Catholic Charities there was working to provide temporary housing. In early September the diocese also will send a team of people to the ravaged area to assess what kind of physical, as well as financial, assistance they can provide.. In the Diocese of Orlando, Florida, staff at Catholic Charities were gathering non-perishables for distribution in the afflicted areas, helping families locate missing relatives and helping to settle storm refugees with housing and other items.
The Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana, 190 miles north of New Orleans, had several of its facilities, including retreat centres, designated as evacuation sites. Dioceses as far away as the Diocese of Albany, New York, were prepared to send volunteers to assist in the affected dioceses. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2005 righe 27 parole 353)