In September 2012, Gateway Church of Christ had just celebrated its first birthday. Originally five families, the now 50 person church was eager to continue fulfilling its mission by establishing a stronger presence in their Morganville, New Jersey community.
Their opportunity came a little more than a month later when Superstorm Sandy battered the New Jersey and New York coastlines, downing power lines, uprooting trees, and flooding hundreds of homes and businesses.
Five miles away from Gateway, Union Beach, a small coastal town, received the storm's absolute wrath. Ninety percent of the town - 2,600 people on two square miles of beachfront - had been submerged in the water. Two thousand of Union Beach's 2,500 homes were damaged and another 175 totally washed away. The town also lacked the financial capital that many of Jersey's other cities held, as the majority of Union Beach's population was working class. more >>
A 31-year-old Texas man who works as a rodeo clown is thanking God for his "miracle" after he survived being struck by lightning twice on Saturday and has vowed to start attending church more frequently.
"I give everything to God," Casey Wagner told CBS. "I owe everything to Him, He's the one that kept me alive. I can tell you one thing, I'm going to start going to church more."
Wagner said he was attending a Rednecks with Paychecks event in Saint Jo, Texas, when Mother Nature unleashed the double whammy of lightning on him and brought him the closest he has ever been to death. more >>
Several faith-based relief effort crews from the Salvation Army, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team and Convoy of Hope, a relief organization, have been dispatched to aid victims in several flood-stricken areas of Colorado, after torrential rains inundated a vast majority of the state nearly a week ago.
At least eight people have been killed by deadly flooding that swamped 17 counties, while over 500 continue to be unaccounted for, which state officials say could be an issue of "book-keeping and cross-referencing," according to ABC News. In addition, thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes while nearly an estimated 18,000 houses have been damaged.
Salvation Army response units have been in Colorado for days now and have provided over 10,000 meals to residents while they continue to establish short and long-term evacuation shelters that will remain open for the next 30 to 90 days. more >>
Yosemite's Rim Fire was started by a hunter's illegal fire, the U.S. Forest Service stated Thursday. Officials have not released the hunter's name and he has not been arrested.
The latest report contradicts earlier rumors that that the fire was started by marijuana growers. That original claim first surfaced two weeks ago when Twain Harte Fire and Rescue Chief Todd McNeal asserted in a community meeting that the blaze was likely the result of a cannabis farm.
"We know its human caused, there's no lightning in the area," he said in remarks documented by a YouTube video. "[We] highly suspect that it might be some sort of illicit grove, marijuana grow-type thing." more >>
Firefighters now have 30 percent of California's Rim Fire contained with full containment expected by Sept 10. While hot weather and aggressive winds have stymied efforts to control the fire, a reversal of climate conditions, combined with increased moisture in the air, have helped firefighters make significant progress.
"[The weather has] given us a greater opportunity to get in there and strengthen our containment lines," Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant told The Los Angeles Times.
The weather's role has been critical: in two separate 24 hour periods last week the fire burned 30,000 and 50,000 acres. In contrast, in two days this week, the fire burned 10,000 and 5,000 acres. In total, the fire has destroyed more than 40,000 acres in Yosemite National Park and 187,000 acres overall. more >>
One of California's largest wildfires on record has chased away tourists, entered Yosemite National Park and now threatens a major water supply for the San Francisco Bay Area.
As of Monday morning, the Rim Fire had still only been 15 percent contained, having scorched through 15,000 acres of the parks and rapidly speeding towards Hetchy Hetchy Reservoir and the homes and businesses of nearby Tuolumne City. In total, the fire has burned an extraordinary 150,000 acres.
Currently over 3,400 firefighters are fighting their way through 100 foot visibility, clogged with ash and smoke and battling persistent winds that continue to combust the fire, which began nearly 10 days ago, on August 17. more >>