Worshippers wait for Mass to begin Oct. 14 in the parking lot of St. Teresa Church in Cordele, Ga. The church’s utilities had not yet been restored following Hurricane Michael, and it would have been too hot to have Mass inside without air conditioning, said the church’s pastor, Father Paulinus Okpala. (CNS photo/courtesy Father Paulinus Okpala)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (CNS) — Assistance is on the way for residents of the Diocese of Savannah still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Michael, thanks to a financial gift of $250,000 from Catholic Charities USA.

Though the 155-mph, Category-4 storm, which made landfall Oct. 10 near Mexico Beach, Florida, exited Georgia by the end of the next day as a weakened tropical storm, many residents of South Georgia and beyond could not return to their normal routines for days, in some cases a week afterward. Others are still struggling.

Students at St. Teresa School in Albany did not return to classes until Oct. 16, while students at other diocesan schools returned Oct. 12 after schools closed the previous day.

In some areas, like Blakely and Cordele, churches did not regain electricity until at least Oct. 18, compelling priests to celebrate Mass by candlelight or outside, respectively, the weekend after the storm.

Even as far north as Macon and Augusta, buildings and grounds sustained roof leaks, downed trees and power lines, and/or other damages.

The monies were raised from donors through both Catholic Charities USA’s Disaster Operations team and a media campaign, according to correspondence between Brian Corbin, executive vice president of Catholic Charities member services and Sister Patricia Brown, director of Catholic Charities of South Georgia.

Sister Brown told parishes in an email that they must apply to receive a portion of the funds, which will be distributed at the discretion of Catholic Charities of South Georgia in November and December. The application lists housing and home repairs; health care and mental health; child care; and transportation and legal assistance as eligible categories of funding.


Marsala is assistant to the editor of the Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of Savannah.