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Bishops pray for 'safety, care' of all hit hard by two massive hurricanes

  • Residents look at a collapsed house Sept. 12 after Hurricane Irma passed the area in Vilano Beach, Florida. (CNS photo/Chris Wattie, Reuters)
  • Sandra Guzman is pictured with her daughter, Maria Valentine Romero, in their mobile home Sept. 12 which now has a tarp instead of a roof after the passing of Hurricane Irma in Immokalee, Fla. (CNS photo/Stephen Yang, Reuters)
  • Franciscan Father John Tran Nguyen, pastor of St. Peter Church in Rockport, Texas, stands inside his destroyed church Sept. 8 in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The parish is home to mainly Vietnamese-American Catholics. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
  • St. Martin Island is seen after Hurricane Irma Sept. 6. (CNS photo/handout, Reuters)
  • A man is rescued from a flooded neighborhood in Havana after Hurricane Irma Sept. 10. (CNS photo/Stringer, Reuters)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops' Executive Committee Sept. 12 prayed for "the safety and care of human life" after two catastrophic hurricanes and urged Catholics around the country to offer their prayers as well as financial support and volunteer help as they can.

"The massive scale of the dual disasters and the effect it has on communities, families and individuals cannot be fully comprehended or adequately addressed in the immediate aftermath of the storms," the statement said, noting that "lives and livelihoods" were "still at risk in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean."

Beginning Sept. 6, Hurricane Irma left hardly any place in its path untouched. The strength and size of the massive storm, with 120-plus-mph winds stretching 70 miles from its core, leveled entire islands in the eastern Caribbean, brought unprecedented flooding on Cuba's north coast, devastated the Florida Keys, snapped construction cranes in downtown Miami and targeted cities along Florida's Gulf Coast.

Irma dwindled to a tropical storm as it neared the Florida-Georgia line early Sept. 11 and was forecast to die out over southern states later in the week. Officials in Florida and across the Caribbean, meanwhile, started to dig out and evaluate the full scope of the disaster Irma left behind. As of Sept. 13, at least 37 people died in the Caribbean and there were at least 19 deaths in the United States.

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