28 September 2004
In the Caribbean: 1000s in distress as relief effort begins
The Methodist Church in Britain, through its World Church Office, is continuing to offer a vital news and support link with areas of the Caribbean affected by hurricanes Frances and Ivan.
The Methodist Church has made special grants of £15,000 to South Caribbean/Grenada area, and £5,000 each to Jamaica and Haiti. So far approximately £1,500 has been received from individuals, churches and Districts around the connexion. This relief money has already been sent to the Caribbean.
The Revd Tom Quenet, Area Secretary for the Americas and Caribbean for the World Church Office, said: "The greatest needs are for materials such as tarpaulin or pool liners for protection to homes from further rains, water treatment equipment, power supply equipment and medicines and food. Through the World Church Office, the Methodist Church in Britain is working with the Methodist Missionary Society in Ireland to provide some of these needs in the medium to long term, for it is likely that it will take years to recover."
He continued: "The most practical thing that can been done is for people to continue to make donations through their churches. This will enable the churches in the region to reconstruct and purchase essential items locally."
The latest reports from the hurricane-affected areas are as follows:
The Methodist Church in Haiti is working hard to help the victims of the flooding and landslides that have accounted for the deaths of over 1700 people.
Three of the Church's 'departments' have been affected, reports Raphael L. Dessieu, President of Conference for the Methodist Church of Haiti. Though the church cannot yet fully estimate the number of lives lost in respect to its congregation, 15 are known to have died and an estimated 1,200 families are in distress.
Revd Dessieu said: "It is with great pain that we present this situation to you and we now ask for your prayers, your solidarity and all other contributions which will help us to bring hope and consolation to those people and to those communities in distress."
"Yep, we got battered again" says Eddie Sykes, Mission Partner in Nassau, in the Bahamas. He continues, "Jeanne did a full circle and then travelled directly over Abaco and Grand Bahama. These areas were both pummelled by Frances, so I imagine it is in a mess. As yet we have not heard anything. The only good thing about Jeanne is that it kept moving at between 12-16mph, but it did have a lot of heavy rain. In Nassau we had high winds and rain all day Saturday, but nothing as severe as Frances."
Mr Sykes goes on to describe how he felt during Frances: "The main feeling was of helplessness. On the islands you can't evacuate anywhere, so we just had to hope it would pass quickly. The surreal thing is that one day the weather was sunny with a light breeze blowing, then the next day we had winds over 100mph and lashing rain battering everything in its path. Following advice we stayed indoors, switched the power off, and simply had to sit tight and hope."
Rev Jacqueline Liddell, Superintendent Minister from the St Thomas Circuit in Jamaica has written to thank The Methodist Church in Britain for their messages and prayers.
At the end of last week schools began to resume, and electricity was returned. Water supplies remain a problem. Jacqui reports that though no lives or churches were lost, many roofs have been damaged or have fallen in.
We have also heard that as a result of torrential rains, identified with the hurricane season, some 700 homes in the Juan Diaz community on the outskirts of Panama City were destroyed.
Methodists who wish to contribute to the relief and reconstruction effort may do so through the Methodist Church Fund for World Mission, or the Methodist Relief and Development Fund, both at 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR. Cheques should be made payable to the relevant fund, with a covering note stating that it is for Hurricane Relief.
Contributions for specific Circuits in the Districts affected or
the other islands of the Caribbean may be sent to the Methodist
Church Fund for World Mission, with a covering note stating which
Circuit or island the money is intended for.