Five Greek Orthodox families have suffered the loss of their homes in the local parish of Prophet Elias in San Bernardino, because of the wildfires, Fr. Theofanis Degaitas, parish priest, told Greek News. “They’ve lost their houses completely,” Fr. Degaitas said. “Others have lost buildings on their property.”
Improving weather conditions in the area help the firefighters control the flames, but according to Fr. Degaitas, if the wind changes, the fire may come back.
“Pray for us all”, he told GreekNews.
Parish members in a solidarity show offered room and other assistance to the families that lost their houses, while one family settled temporarily in the Community Center.
The fire in the San Bernardino area has destroyed an estimated 520 homes, killed four people, forced the evacuation of 80,000 people, and burned an estimated 36,000 acres, according to news accounts.
Among the evacuees is Fr. Alexander Lisenko of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in San Diego. In Hesperia, near Big Bear, St. George the Great Martyr Orthodox Church finds itself at a different kind of Ground Zero as residents are evacuated and a fire command station is set up.
An emergency response network of Orthodox Christians is mobilizing to help victims of the wildfires raging in Southern California. The network, organized by the U.S. Program of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), will help people who have lost property as a result of the fires.
“We are looking to respond with monetary assistance to the victims, as we determine what the victim count is and what the needs are,” said Fr. David Kossey, national coordinator of the network. An appeal for funds to member parishes of the network went out on Thursday, Oct. 30. Fr. Kossey is calling Orthodox priests in the affected areas in California to determine the extent of the property damage among their
“It is in our power to help these and other victims directly by providing money for immediate expenses,” Fr. Kossey said. “By working with local Orthodox priests, the network will locate the most vulnerable victims and channel funds and other resources to them quickly.”
IOCC is establishing the national network to give Orthodox parishes and priests a shared mechanism for responding to disasters. Each of the 25 priests in the network will serve as regional coordinators for Orthodox emergency response.
So far, 20 priests have been trained to be regional coordinators. The priests are trained at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., in cooperation with Church World Service.
Anyone interested in getting involved with the emergency response network can call IOCC toll-free at:
1-877-803-4622. Contributions may be sent to: IOCC/U.S. Program, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, MD 21263-0225.