Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA), has granted an initial sum of US$20,000 for relief to the Caribbean following the passage of Hurricane Sandy through the northern Caribbean and the United States.
Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands were the islands most affected by the late-season tropical cyclone.
Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, suffered especially hard. Ronel Mesidor of the Haiti Baptist Convention reported that areas in and around Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince were particularly affected. A number of church buildings, including those of the Duvivier, Damien, Leogane and Tigoave Baptist churches were flooded. At least one member of Tigoave Baptist Church died as a result of the hurricane.
Some of the walls of a school operated by the Mussotte Baptist Church collapsed and its roof destroyed. Mesidor also reported that Baptists lost their homes and livelihood as many lost both crops and farm animals during the hurricane.
At least 52 people are reported to have died in Haiti because of Hurricane Sandy and an estimated 200,000 are displaced.
Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) General Secretary Karl Johnson said “Sandy left a trail of destruction mainly in the southeastern section of the island. Parishes such as St. Mary, Portland, St. Thomas and Kingston & St. Andrew bore the brunt of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath.”
Jamaica was the first of the islands to get a direct hit from Sandy.
The JBU leader said one life was lost as a result of the hurricane “and severe damage done to properties, crops, roads and the general infrastructure in several communities.” Johnson said “preliminary reports have indicated that about 15-20 of our (Baptist) buildings have been affected. We are looking at a conservative figure of almost $30 million to effect repairs.”
The eastern section of Cuba, including the city of Santiago, was hit hard by the hurricane, said Joel Dupont, president of the Baptist Convention of Eastern Cuba. He reported that there was “chaos in the city (Santiago)” and that “11,000 people have lost their roofs and consequently, everything in their homes as they have no protection from the rain.”
Many Cubans are now without basic services as “there is no water, electricity, and since most homes use electric stoves, people are not able to cook even if they have food.” Dupont said electrical power is expected to be out for at least a month. Three pastors suffered personal loss to their homes, Dupont said.
“Churches in Cuba are arranging a feeding center to feed people in their community,” the Cuban Baptist leader told the BWA. “They are using all their funds to help families in need regardless of their faith. They have four teams in place to visit the communities that have been damaged to see how they can help. Situation in the city is critical and desperate.”
Anthony Carroll, president f the National Baptist Missionary and Education Convention (NBMEC) in the Bahamas said five islands – Eleuthera, Abaco, Exuma, Cat Island and Grand Bahama – suffered the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, and New Providence, the island on which it is located, suffered minimal damage. The Bahamas comprises more than 3,000 islands, cays and islets.
The NBMEC is assessing the level of damage by liaising with Baptist leaders at the association level and is in touch with the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship (CBF), one of six regional fellowships of the BWA, to plan any coordinated relief effort.
Everton Jackson, executive secretary/treasurer of the CBF said many people in the Caribbean “are still in shelters and are in need of basic food items and clothing.” He told the BWA that while full assessments of the damage and needs are not yet done, “initially there is dire need for food, water, and temporary shelter in some areas. We do appreciate the support of the BWA.”
Donations for hurricane relief may be made online at www.bwanet.org, or sent to:
Baptist World Aid
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
Baptist World Alliance®
© October 31, 2012