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Religions and hurricanes: As storms rage and waters rise, religions speak with many voices

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RELIGIONS and their sacred texts have a lot to say about floods and catastrophes, as does the traditional lore of many ancient peoples. In Islam, Judaism and Christianity there is the story of Noah, a righteous man whose boat preserves his life, and life on earth generally, at a time when the rest of humanity is punished by rising waters. (The Hebrew Scriptures speak of a global flood, the Koran of a more local one, but the stories are very much alike.) In the 19th century, scholars rediscovered the story of Gilgamesh, probably the oldest piece of epic literature we now possess: it tells how the god Ea warns a good man to build a huge vessel to save himself, and the seeds of life, from an impending surge. And in the Hindu tradition, there is the story of Manu, who is warned of a coming inundation by the god Vishnu, appearing in the form of a fish.       What have today’s religious groups and their leaders had to say in response to the tropical storms and hurricanes now sweeping the Caribbean and North America? At least three different sorts of voices have been heard.  First, religiously-inspired charities have been working hard to anticipate and ease the woes of the neediest victims. Catholic Relief Services, the humanitarian arm of the American Catholic …