Hurricane Sandy

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The Methodist Church in Britain has offered an immediate response in aid to Churches affected by Hurricane Sandy. A grant from the Church's World Mission Fund will be released to help combat the destruction left by the storm that has wreaked havoc across Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas and Haiti and is currently on course to hit the east coast of the United States.

 The Revd Tom Quenet, Partnership Coordinator for The Americas and the Caribbean, has warned that Hurricane Sandy could turn out to be the largest and most destructive of the Caribbean's 2012 hurricane season. "Living in the Caribbean you expect hurricanes between June and November," he said, "what you can never tell is how intense they will be and what impact they will have as they pass near you."

Hurricane Sandy has already battered Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas and indirectly affected Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  In Haiti, which is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake, the streets of Port au Prince, recently cleared of rubble, were inundated with metres of water. Officials announced that the storm had killed 58 people and left thousands of people without homes or livelihoods.

John and Sharon Harbottle, mission partners working in Haiti, said: "Haitian President Martelly's reputed words that Southern Haiti was under water turned out to be an accurate description of what we saw two days after Tropical Storm Sandy deluged Haiti. Travelling home from Jeremie where we had been sheltering, we passed one devastated village after another. There was so much crop damage. Fields of maize lay flattened by the torrential rain, plantations of sugar cane resembled rice paddies, and whole banana trees were submerged by swollen rivers that had burst their banks. Families spread their belongings out to dry on every available bush, swept the mud that had washed through their homes and stood and stared at their lost crops."

 John and Sharon were stranded while visiting clinics, schools and churches in Jeremie. They were welcomed into the home of a minister who guided them to the point where they could safely cross the deluge when the storm had passed. "The journey itself was really very good," they said. "We were constantly praising God as we passed one potential problem after another. River crossings, mudslides and fallen rocks had been cleared enabling us to pass through."

In Jamaica, the Revd George Mulrain reported that there had been severe flooding. "Kintyre, where we have a church, has been cut off completely," he said. "The water in the river bed rose to the level of the road. Several roads are impassable due to trees that fell. In our area, like most of the country, we are without electricity."

Bishop Pereira of the Methodist Church in Cuba, also reported on the damage. "Santiago de Cuba province reports that many houses have collapsed and the Wesley Church has been damaged too," he said. "Many churches have been destroyed. Communication is very difficult. Through cell phones we have received reports that the town Arroyo Blanco in North Holguin was devastated, including the church where the storm ripped the roof off the parsonage. The community in Alcala, also in Holguin, reported the same thing. We are asking for prayers. We are doing our best to reach the affected areas as soon as possible."

In the Bahamas, mission partners Eddie and Susan Sykes said that hurricane shutters had been erected and that people were preparing for the full impact of 100 mph winds.

The Revd Tom Quenet added: "John and Sharon Harbottle in Haiti as mission partners have been welcomed by the Methodist Church in Haiti as sharing in the struggle to rebuild and recover. Hurricane Sandy has caused a lot of damage and loss of life in the Caribbean and has gone on to affect the United States. All our partners in the region appreciate the willingness and speed that we have shown in responding to disasters of this kind. Please pray for the many whose lives have been affected."

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