WASHINGTON, D.C. (BWA)–Baptist World Aid, the relief-and-development arm of the Baptist World Alliance, has made donations to victims of Hurricane Dean on the Caribbean island of Jamaica.The hurricane, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in recent decades, reaching the level of category five, hit several Caribbean and Latin American countries such as St. Lucia, Jamaica, Haiti, and Mexico in late August.

Baptist members, churches and other properties were affected by the devastation which caused most damage to the eastern and southern sections of Jamaica. BWAid, as part of its mandate to assist and give aid in disaster relief, donated an initial sum of $10,000 to the Jamaica Baptist Union. The International Ministries Board of American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., also made a donation of $5,000 to the northern Caribbean island of 2.6 million people.

Karl Johnson, general secretary of the JBU, estimated the loss to Baptist families at $100,000. “One community where one of our churches is located had some 20 families that lost all their possessions,” Johnson said. “The entire community was devastated. It is heart rending.”

Johnson reported that at least 75 Baptist families, or 300 persons, have been severely affected by the hurricane, such as lost roofs and possessions. Thirty churches suffered varying degrees of structural damage, and about 10 Baptist schools are extensively damaged. But for the families, “The most urgent need is for roofing materials, canned food, dried carbohydrate, bottled water, generators and so on,” the JBU leader reported.

Jamaica has been hit by several devastating storms. In 1988, Hurricane Gilbert caused widespread devastation on the island, and in 2004, Hurricane Ivan caused severe and widespread damage, especially in the south and east of the country.

BWAid is appealing to other Baptist groups and individuals to make donations for this and other disaster relief. Donations may be made at www.bwanet.org/bwaid.

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