In the Caribbean: 1000s in distress as relief effort begins

The Methodist Church in Britain, through its World ChurchOffice, is continuing to offer a vital news and support link withareas of the Caribbean affected by hurricanes Frances and Ivan.


The Methodist Church has made special grants of £15,000 to SouthCaribbean/Grenada area, and £5,000 each to Jamaica and Haiti. Sofar approximately £1,500 has been received from individuals,churches and Districts around the connexion. This relief money hasalready been sent to the Caribbean.


The Revd Tom Quenet, Area Secretary for the Americas andCaribbean for the World Church Office, said: "The greatest needsare for materials such as tarpaulin or pool liners for protectionto homes from further rains, water treatment equipment, powersupply equipment and medicines and food. Through the WorldChurch Office, the Methodist Church in Britain is working withthe Methodist Missionary Society in Ireland to provide some ofthese needs in the medium to long term, for it is likely that itwill take years to recover."


He continued: "The most practical thing that can been done isfor people to continue to make donations through their churches.This will enable the churches in the region to reconstruct andpurchase essential items locally."


The latest reports from the hurricane-affected areas are asfollows:




The Methodist Church in Haiti is working hard to help thevictims of the flooding and landslides that have accounted for thedeaths of over 1700 people.


Three of the Church's 'departments' have been affected, reportsRaphael L. Dessieu, President of Conference for the MethodistChurch of Haiti. Though the church cannot yet fully estimate thenumber of lives lost in respect to its congregation, 15 are knownto have died and an estimated 1,200 families are in distress.


Revd Dessieu said: "It is with great pain that we present thissituation to you and we now ask for your prayers, your solidarityand all other contributions which will help us to bring hope andconsolation to those people and to those communities indistress."




"Yep, we got battered again" says Eddie Sykes, Mission Partnerin Nassau, in the Bahamas. He continues, "Jeanne did a full circleand then travelled directly over Abaco and Grand Bahama. Theseareas 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 Jeanneis that it kept moving at between 12-16mph, but it did have a lotof heavy rain. In Nassau we had high winds and rain all daySaturday, but nothing as severe as Frances."


Mr Sykes goes on to describe how he felt during Frances: "Themain feeling was of helplessness. On the islands you can'tevacuate anywhere, so we just had tohope it would pass quickly. The surreal thing is that oneday the weather was sunny with a light breeze blowing, thenthe next day we had winds over 100mph and lashing rainbattering everything in its path. Following advice we stayedindoors, switched the power off, and simply had tosit tight and hope."




Rev Jacqueline Liddell, Superintendent Minister from the StThomas Circuit in Jamaica has written to thank The Methodist Churchin Britain for their messages and prayers.


At the end of last week schools began to resume, and electricitywas returned. Water supplies remain a problem. Jacqui reports thatthough no lives or churches were lost, many roofs have been damagedor have fallen in.


Juan Diaz


We have also heard that as a result of torrential rains,identified with the hurricane season, some 700 homes in the JuanDiaz community on the outskirts of Panama City were destroyed.


Methodists who wish to contribute to the relief andreconstruction effort may do so through the Methodist Church Fundfor World Mission, or the Methodist Relief and Development Fund,both at 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR. Cheques should be madepayable to the relevant fund, with a covering note stating that itis for Hurricane Relief.


Contributions for specific Circuits in the Districts affected orthe other islands of the Caribbean may be sent to the MethodistChurch Fund for World Mission, with a covering note stating whichCircuit or island the money is intended for.