Dioceses in the path of Hurricane Idalia report property damage

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Sep 5, 2023

Honey Creek, the retreat center of the Diocese of Georgia, lost many trees to the strong winds of Hurricane Idalia. Photo: Diocese of Georgia

[Episcopal News Service] The dioceses of Florida, Central Florida and Georgia have told Episcopal News Service that churches and other diocesan facilities sustained property damage from the strong winds of Hurricane Idalia, but no injuries or fatalities were reported.

Idalia was a category 3 storm when it made landfall in the Big Bend region of Florida, but it had weakened to category 1 as it continued on into Georgia.

The Diocese of Florida, which took a direct hit from the storm, said that Camp Weed & Cerveny Conference Center reported more than 150 trees felled on the property in Live Oak, including several that fell on the camp’s water plant. The director, Randy Winton, said there was “a limited amount of damage to buildings, cabins and property,” and clean-up efforts already have begun. The diocese said that because the camp and conference center was to be the location of its diocesan convention on Sept. 30, other sites are being actively explored.

Camp Weed in the Diocese of Florida lost many trees after taking a direct hit from Hurricane Idalia. Photo: Randy Winton via Facebook

The diocese also reported damage to four churches:

  • Christ Church, Cedar Key, where the church structure was described in good condition;
  • St. Luke’s, Live Oak, with church structures in “OK condition” but with lots of downed trees and debris;
  • St. James, Lake City, with the church structure in good condition; and
  • St. James, Perry, where a tree had fallen on the parish hall but the church itself was in good condition.

In the Diocese of Central Florida, which is headquartered in Orlando but includes a small area along Florida’s west coast, St. Anne’s, Crystal River, had some siding blown off the church building but otherwise reported no damage. The diocese said that some St. Anne’s parishioners reported that their homes were flooded.

In the Diocese of Georgia, Honey Creek, the diocesan retreat center, had many trees blown down, including one that fell onto power lines, resulting in a small fire in a dormitory that quickly was contained. On St. Simon’s Island, a tree fell on the rectory of Holy Nativity.

Valdosta was the area hardest hit in the diocese, with two churches reporting downed trees: St. Barnabas and Christ Church. However, the diocese told ENS that homes of some Valdosta clergy and lay leaders were affected by the storm.

–Melodie Woerman is a freelance writer and former director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas.