Facing natural disasters: Remember God’s love, reach out to those in need Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Jul. 05, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. Uhler

If we think the year 2012 has brought us unusual weather conditions, we are correct. In fact, reports indicate that the United States experienced its warmest and most extreme weather on record through April, and those conditions seem to be continuing.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the average temperature this year has been 45.4 degrees, up 5.4 degrees from the long-term average. From May 2011 to April 2012, the U.S. had its second hottest summer, fourth warmest winter, and warmest March on record, according to the NOAA. This time frame was also the warmest consecutive 12-month period for the country.

The U.S. Climate Extreme Index — a measurement that tracks the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought, and tropical cyclones — was twice the average, a record 42 percent during the January to April period, reported RTTNews.

It’s certainly been a strange year so far. Some parts of our country are experiencing drought and wildfires, while other areas have had flooding and damaging storms.

Weather affects food producers

A Prayer for Rain

From The Rural Life Prayer Book
Published by the National Catholic Rural Life Conference

Almighty God, we are in need of rain. We realize now, looking up into the clear, blue sky, what a marvel even the least drop of rain really is. To think that so much water can fall out of the sky, which now is empty and clear! We place our trust in You. We are sure that You know our needs. But You want us to ask You anyway, to show You that we know we are dependent on You. Look on our dry hills and fields, dear God, and bless them with the living blessing of soft rain. Then the land will rejoice, and the rivers will sing Your praises, and the hearts of men will be made glad. Amen.

In Wisconsin, we had warmer weather in late winter and spring. Tom Nelson, coordinator of Rural Life Ministries for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Madison, passed along some information about how the weather has been affecting food producers.

What started out as a promising season for state food producers is turning out to be a real challenge with quite a flurry of losses. There is no apple crop statewide, nor cherry crop, nor even maple syrup over the sugaring season this year, so the value-added and storable produce has taken huge hits.

Now with no discernable rainfall in the last three and a half weeks, the corn and soybeans have reached a crisis stage in their development. Fresh produce is also burning off the soil and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms are sending out short baskets to their supporters.

It’s been a tough season all around. There is the stress to farm animals in the continuous heat and higher humidity. Even the birds and small critters of fields and woodlands seem stressed and searching for food and water.

Pray and help those in need

Nelson encourages everyone to pray to the Creator for rain. He shared “A Prayer for Rain” from the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (included here).

Most of us are dependent on our country’s farmers for the food we eat. Let us pray for enough rain to save their crops and rescue farm animals.

We are also experiencing the challenges of living with high temperatures and dry conditions in our own homes and yards. We should make sure that family members and neighbors are coping with the heat and offer assistance where needed. As people in Colorado and other areas deal with natural disasters, we should pray for them, too, and offer help if we can.

In talking with earthquake victims in Italy recently, Pope Benedict XVI said that fear and anxiety are often responses to natural disasters.  However, the Holy Father reminded people that they must be secure in God’s love. “We are small and fragile, but safe in his hands,” he said. “Therefore trust in his love that is solid as a rock.”

The pope made an appeal to everyone not to ignore the suffering of those in need but, like the Good Samaritan, to come to other people’s aid with love.