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Knights of Columbus aid natural disaster victims in Puerto Rico and Mexico

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A woman carries bottles of water and food during a distribution of relief items Sept. 24 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, days after Hurricane Maria. (CNS photo/Alvin Baez, Reuters)

To provide relief after a spate of recent natural disasters, the Knights of Columbus have raised over $2.8 million worth of aid to be distributed to the Caribbean and Mexico, and to the southeastern states of the United States.  

“Charity has always been the defining characteristic of the Knights of Columbus, and people – both those in distress and those who want to help – have placed a great deal of trust in us,” the Knights’ CEO Carl Anderson said in a Sept. 26 statement. “The outpouring of generosity to our appeal by our members and others has been greatly appreciated.”

The relief appeal began after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas on August 25. That storm, followed by two more devastating hurricanes – Irma and Maria – as well as recent Mexican earthquakes have resulted in hundreds of deaths, left many without homes, and caused serious strains on the economies of impacted areas.

The Knights have sent emergency donations to Puerto Rico and Mexico, and volunteered to move debris and help stranded neighbors in the U.S. Members of the non-profit fraternity have also distributed over $720,000 worth of food, water, and other supplies.

According to World Vision, Hurricane Harvey has damaged or destroyed 135,000 homes, and has killed at least 82. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has estimated rebuilding costs to be between $150-180 billion.

A few weeks after Harvey made landfall in Texas in late August, Hurricane Irma hit Florida on Sept. 10. Irma has killed dozens in the Caribbean and Florida, and caused up to $100 billion in damages. On Sept.19, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the central regions of Mexico, killing more than 300 people and injuring over 6,000. This followed a bigger earthquake off the Mexican coast near Chiapas, 12 days earlier, which killed at least 98 people, damaged more than 40,000 homes, and created tsunami-sized waves.

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 as a Category 4 hurricane. At least 16 people have died, and the 155 mile per hour winds left the entire island without power and damaged many of the island’s structures, but Reuters reports that exact assessment of the hurricane’s destruction has yet to be completed.

The Knights of Columbus are continuing to receive disaster relief funds, and online donations can be made at: https://www.kofc.org/en/charities/articles/disaster-relief.html

During his General Audience last Wednesday, Pope Francis expressed “closeness to the whole Mexican population” and offered his prayers for the earthquakes’ victims, invoking the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A week later, he asked for Christians “to remember in prayer the victims and those affected by the hurricane, which in these days has battered the Caribbean, in a particular way Puerto Rico.”

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