NOVEMBER 9, 2012 | UNITED STATES
NEW YORK—On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy brought devastation to many areas along the East Coast of the United States. Jehovah’s Witnesses are cooperating with local authorities to help care for their fellow worshippers and other victims of the disaster.
Approximately 200,000 Witnesses live in the states directly affected by the storm. Among the Witnesses living in the areas hardest hit, there were no reports of deaths and two reports of minor injuries. In Georgia, high winds caused a tree limb to fall and seriously injure a young child whose parents are associated with a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As of this report, the child remains in critical condition. Local Witnesses in the area and others who heard about the injury through media reports are providing generous support to the family.
The storm has disrupted direct communication to many regions. When telecommunications systems are repaired, more accurate assessments of the damage will be possible.
Initial reports received from the United States branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses indicate that there were no deaths and only one minor injury at the branch office. The storm caused relatively minor damage to buildings at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York. A section of a façade from one building was blown off by the high winds, but no one was injured by the debris. There were power outages at the branch office facilities in Patterson and Wallkill, New York, and these facilities ran temporarily on generator power; however, the Warwick facility is still operating on generator power. The storm also disrupted telecommunications services at these facilities.
Initial reports also indicate the following: 12 houses of worship used by the Witnesses, called Kingdom Halls, were seriously damaged by flooding or high winds; 219 homes of Witnesses sustained major damage from the storm, 169 moderate damage, and 710 minor damage. Several teams of Witnesses in these areas are organized for disaster relief and are coordinating their efforts with local authorities to help meet the immediate needs of their fellow worshippers and other victims.
In anticipation of the hurricane, congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses were urged to establish a safe evacuation plan. More than 1,100 Witnesses were evacuated in advance of the storm. Local Witnesses are opening their homes to accommodate their fellow worshippers who are displaced or whose homes are without power for an extended period of time.
Witness volunteers are working diligently to care for the needs of their fellow believers and will continue to do so for as long as necessary. “We express our deep concern for all the victims of this large-scale disaster,” states J. R. Brown, a spokesman at the Witnesses’ world headquarters. “We are grateful that we are in a position to assist others, especially our family of fellow worshippers who are suffering the effects of this massive storm system. They remain in our constant thoughts and prayers.”
J. R. Brown, Office of Public Information, tel. +1 718 560 5000