02 November 2012

Methodist Church grants £18,000 to victims of Hurricane Sandy

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The Methodist Church in Britain has agreed a grant of £18,000 in aid to support communities struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. 

The grants made from the Church's World Mission Fund will go to churches in Cuba and Haiti to help them rebuild their communities following the storm that has also wreaked havoc across the east coast of the United States. The United Methodist Committee on Relief's hurricane appeal will receive £3,000 to aid relief in the States.

David Friswell, Leader of World Church Relationships, said: "We have heard a great deal about the terrible impact of Hurricane Sandy in the United States, but our greatest concern is for those communities in the Caribbean not seen on our TV screens. These places lack the resources to deal with such disasters which leave people without the basics of food and shelter. Working through Partner Churches these emergency funds will mean that help can be given where it is needed most."

Hurricane Sandy battered Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas and affected Haiti and the Dominican Republic when it struck last week.  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. In that region, the storm killed 58 people and left thousands without homes or livelihoods.

John and Sharon Harbottle, mission partners working in Haiti, said: "Travelling home from Jérémie, the capital city of the Grand'Anse department 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."

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.

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