Flooding in Texas
Over 15 inches of rain inundated the Houston region on Monday, forcing officials to suspend bus and rail service, close schools and government offices, with authorities warning of extremely dangerous conditions. In some places, rainfall rates of 3 to 4 inches per hour were reported. Authorities said there were at least 650 residential calls for help Monday morning as the floodwaters rose.
Much of central, north and eastern Texas came under the flash flood watch, with cities such as Austin, San Antonio, Bryan-College Station, Dallas, Fort Worth, the Tyler-Longview area and Texarkana affected by the torrential rains.
Earthquakes in Ecuador
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the coastal region of Ecuador on Saturday, April 16. The quake’s epicenter was 16 miles southeast of the coastal town of Muisne, and tremors could be felt as far away as Quito, the country’s capital 100 miles to the south. At least 233 people were killed – a number that is expected to rise as first responders are reaching affected areas - hundreds more have been injured and there are reports of widespread damage to buildings, roads and other infrastructure.
Esmeraldas and Manabí, two of the hardest hit areas, have received substantial rainfall recently, making them prone to potential landslides which is complicating access. Communications are down or intermittent, further complicating the logistics of assessing the damage.
This is the strongest earthquake Ecuador has experienced since an earthquake 1979 that triggered tsunamis and killed up to 600 people.
Earthquakes in Japan
At least 32 people died in the second of two major earthquakes that struck Japan last week. Catholic parishes in the area appealed for donations to help survivors.
Pope Francis during his Regina Coeli address on Sunday prayed for the victims of the earthquake.
In Japan's southern island of Kyushu, more than 100,000 residents remained evacuated on Sunday, cramming into public buildings and makeshift camp sites. Troops handed out water and food, some of it donated by supermarket chains.
Japan's government accepted an offer of help from the United States to send in U.S. military helicopters. Some evacuees told Japanese television the shelters are full. Many people resorted to sleeping in cars or on cardboard outdoors.
A Catholic parish in the city of Fukuoka was among those asking for donations to help survivors, and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan said it was considering how volunteers might best be directed to help. Meanwhile, rescue workers continued to pick through the debris of destroyed homes. At a university accommodation centre that collapsed, 11 people remained missing.
Several hundreds of aftershocks were recorded, and officials cautioned that land weakened by the tremors is now at risk of landslides.
Source: Vatican Radio
Prayer for those affected by natural disasters
God, you are in the midst of those who suffer
May all affected by natural disasters feel your healing presence.
God, you are in the hands of those who reach out
Help responders in their courageous work.
God, you are in the hearts of those compassionate ones
Whose prayers cry out for their families
Whose prayers cry out for their neighbors Whose prayers cry out even for strangers
Bless and comfort those who mourn.
God, you are in the still small voice,
The gentle whisper that follows
May our ears always hear
May our hearts always cry out for one another
May our hands always reach out to one another
And may we always walk like you walk
In solidarity with those who suffer
And so reflect your presence and comfort.
Prayer adapted from Catholic Relief Services