Enough prayers for rain, bishop says

Paying tribute to Hunter Valley emergency workers following this week's devastating floods, Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone has offered his sympathy to those affected by the tragedy, adding wryly that "we can stop praying for rain for a while".

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that in a pastoral letter, Bishop Malone offered sympathy to families of those who lost their lives, saying he stands "united with you at this time of great sadness and suffering".

The paper says that the worst appears to be over with a huge job of cleaning up under way in the Hunter Valley last night, as the economic cost of the deadly storms was projected to climb to $1 billion.

Claims for damage from the storms are already running in the hundreds of millions of dollars but the wider losses to home owners, businesses and the impact on infrastructure will push the figure much higher.

"It has been my experience that in times of tragedy people unite together and find strength and comfort from each other," Bishop Malone wrote.

"I would like to pay particular tribute to the thousands of emergency workers and volunteers who have worked around the clock to help and protect the people most in need," he said.

"The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle offers you our prayerful support as you continue with the massive clean up operations.

With safety a concern, Catholic schools in the diocese were closed yesterday.

"Parents are asked to contact their local school to confirm arrangements for the rest of the week," Bishop Malone said.

"The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle provides a wide range of additional education and social support services, and we will do all we can to support the wider community of Newcastle and the Hunter during the recovery phase," Bishop Malone concluded.

Those in need of support can call the diocese's toll's free Diocesan Support Line number on 1800 234 050.

It's a billion-dollar disaster (Sydney Morning Herald, 13/6/07)
Pastoral Message from Bishop Michael on the Recent Natural Disaster (Media Release, 11/6/07)
Schools assessed after storm (ABC News, 11/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Maitland-Newcastle diocese

School back on deck after floods (CathNews, 7/3/07)
Nun says outback rain has boosted morale (CathNews, 20/7/05)

13 Jun 2007

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