As Superstorm Sandy continues to impact the United States with rains, strong winds, heavy snowfall and flooding expected into Thursday, the Assemblies of God has created a national Sandy Disaster Relief fund to aid in meeting the massive need that is already clearly evident.
According to reports, millions of American households along the East Coast are without power, thousands are living in make-shift shelters, thousands more are stranded and dozens have perished. Sandy has already been estimated to be responsible for in excess of $10 billion in damages, with the storm still adding to its toll of destruction.
AG General Superintendent George O. Wood has a video posted informing people about the opportunity to give to Sandy Disaster Relief. Funds will be distributed to Convoy of Hope, which has already arrived in the Northeast, and AG Disaster Relief.
"It will be days or even weeks before power can be restored to millions up and down the coast," Wood states. "I am asking Assemblies of God churches and congregations to join me in prayer for those impacted by this storm. I also ask that individuals and churches consider giving to Sandy Disaster Relief." Wood notes that prior to striking the U.S., Hurricane Sandy also struck Haiti and Cuba.
Due to the extreme number of power outages and damage to phone lines and cell towers, some AG districts had difficulty reaching churches and their pastors. At post time, the Southern New England and Appalachian districts were unable to be reached and the Potomac, North Carolina, Pennsylvania-Delaware, Ohio and Michigan districts had no reports of any significant damage at this point, though a church in the Ohio District did lose its steeple in high winds.
In the New Jersey District, Superintendent Carl Colletti's office reports that AG churches in Bayonne, Jersey City and Carlstadt have serious flood damage. Churches located in Atlantic City and the barrier islands are expected to also have experienced flooding, but currently only emergency workers have been given access to the islands. Television footage, however, shows heavy flooding in the area. Colletti says that the major population areas of the state are mostly without power. He says the district is continuing to work on contacting churches and pastors by every means possible including social networking options such as Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging.
The Spanish Eastern District has reported an AG church in Brooklyn was nearly totally destroyed, with only the outside walls remaining. There is also concern about an Hispanic church in Atlantic City - an area that has experienced extensive flooding - however, they are unable to connect with the pastor at this time.
New York District Superintendent Duane Durst reports that so far a trio of AG churches - Bellmore, Island Park and Howard Beach - have suffered significant flooding in his district, with two churches on Staten Island experiencing some minor flood and wind damage as well. He also reports a church in Hicksville lost part of its roof and had substantial water damage. Durst adds that power outages and lack of phone service is making contact with some churches and pastors difficult.
However, it is known that at least one AG minister's family has been heavily hit. According to Durst, Garry Patrylo Jr., a certified AG minister in the New York District, lost his father to cancer less than two weeks ago. On Friday (October 27), while cleaning the halfway home his father ran, a solvent exploded and Patrylo received third-degree burns over much of his body. Rushed to the hospital, and with his wife, Katherine (Kathy), there, Patrylo was having dead skin removed from his body and a temporary skin placed over exposed flesh when Sandy made its assault on Monday. The flooding by Sandy swept away the cottage behind the Patrylo's home and their two cars. It also flooded their basement apartment, setting the house on fire, with the water ultimately reaching the home's first floor windows.
"Garry and Kathy are also the parents of three young children - ages 3-and-a-half, 2 and 4 months . . . " Durst adds, his voice trailing off. According to Katherine's Facebook page, Garry faces a long recovery.
"It's clear that even if it's impossible for someone to help financially at this time," Wood says, "there are many who desperately need Christians around the world to lift them up in a chorus of prayer. For those who can assist financially, we need your help to tangibly extend compassion and assistance to those in need now and in the weeks and months to come."
To give to the Sandy Disaster Relief fund, click here. To watch the video message from Dr. George O. Wood, click this link. Checks may also be sent to the General Council of the Assemblies of God, 1445 N. Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65802 and write "Sandy Disaster Relief" in the memo line.