World Mission Group responds to Caribbean storm devastation

The World Mission Group has responded to the devastation caused by a torrent of hurricanes in the Caribbean with a £26,000 grant.

Church leaders in the Turks and Caicos, Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic made contact with Rev Tom Quenet, Partnership Coordinator for World Church Relationships, to explain the extent of the crisis, which left hundreds dead and thousands homeless.

The Dominican Republic, one of the poorest countries in the region, suffered hundreds of millions of pounds worth of damage to buildings and more than 250,000 people lost their homes.

Hundreds died in Haiti following floods that left 650,000 people homeless. Despite storm management planning in Cuba, 19 people were killed when Hurricane Ike ripped through the country.

Rev Derek Browne, Superintendent Presbyter of the Turks and Caicos Islands Circuit, said: “The Islands of Grand Turks, Salt Cay and South Caicos were devastated. Over 80 per cent of homes and businesses were severely damaged or destroyed. Some buildings just collapsed, roofs completely blown off in some cases, sheetrock ceilings collapsed and destroyed and furniture destroyed by flooding.

“There will also be a need for counselling, the children in particular, but also many others who were traumatised by the effects of the storm. Lives and communities have changed forever.”

In Puerto Rico, thousands of poorly constructed homes in rural communities have been washed away by six weeks of constant torrential rain. On September 23, a tropical depression hanging over the island shed 25 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Hurricane Gustav destroyed several rural churches and manses being used as shelters in Jamaica. Diseases have spread through contaminated water in the low-lying parts of Central America and the Caribbean Coast of Latin America where residents have also lost homes and livestock.

The £26,000 donation granted by the World Mission Group this week will be divided between churches in the crisis areas left by hurricanes and tropical storms Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike and Josephine.

Tom, who works with churches in Latin America and the Caribbean, said: “The need is so vast that it is clear we can’t meet it outright. But this grant from the Fund For World Mission will make a difference and is an expression of our solidarity. We would encourage Methodists everywhere to hold the people of the region in their thoughts and prayers.”