Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), has granted an initial sum of $20,000 for relief to the Caribbean following Hurricane Sandy’s passage through the northern Caribbean and the United States.
Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands were the islands most affected by the late-season tropical cyclone.
Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, suffered especially hard.
Areas in and around Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, were particularly affected, said Ronel Mesidor of the Haiti Baptist Convention.
A number of church buildings were flooded. At least one member of Tigoave Baptist Church died as a result of the hurricane.
Some of the walls of a school operated by the Mussotte Baptist Church collapsed and its roof destroyed.
Mesidor also reported that Baptists lost their homes and livelihood as many lost crops and farm animals during the hurricane.
At least 52 people are reported to have died in Haiti because of Hurricane Sandy; an estimated 200,000 are displaced.
“Sandy left a trail of destruction mainly in the southeastern section of the island,” Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) General Secretary Karl Johnson said. “Parishes such as St. Mary, Portland, St. Thomas and Kingston and St. Andrew bore the brunt of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath.”
Jamaica was the first of the islands to get a direct hit from Sandy.
Johnson said one life was lost as a result of the hurricane “and severe damage done to properties, crops, roads and the general infrastructure in several communities.”
Johnson said “preliminary reports have indicated that about 15 to 20 of our (Baptist) buildings have been affected. We are looking at a conservative figure of almost $30 million to effect repairs.”
The eastern section of Cuba, including the city of Santiago, was hit hard by the hurricane, Joel Dupont, president of the Baptist Convention of Eastern Cuba, said.
He reported that there was “chaos in the city (Santiago)” and that “11,000 people have lost their roofs and consequently, everything in their homes as they have no protection from the rain.”
Many Cubans are now without basic services as “there is no water, electricity, and since most homes use electric stoves, people are not able to cook even if they have food.”
Dupont said electrical power is expected to be out for at least a month. Three pastors suffered personal loss to their homes, Dupont said.
“Churches in Cuba are arranging a feeding center to feed people in their community,” Dupont told the BWA. “They are using all their funds to help families in need regardless of their faith. They have four teams in place to visit the communities that have been damaged to see how they can help. Situation in the city is critical and desperate.”
Anthony Carroll, president of the National Baptist Missionary and Education Convention (NBMEC) in the Bahamas said five islands – Eleuthera, Abaco, Exuma, Cat Island and Grand Bahama – suffered the brunt of Hurricane Sandy.
Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, and New Providence, the island on which it is located, suffered minimal damage. The Bahamas comprise more than 3,000 islands, cays and islets.
The NBMEC is assessing the level of damage by interceding with Baptist leaders at the association level and is in touch with the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship (CBF), one of six regional fellowships of the BWA, to plan any coordinated relief effort.
Everton Jackson, executive secretary/treasurer of the CBF, said many people in the Caribbean “are still in shelters and are in need of basic food items and clothing.”
Jackson told the BWA that while full assessments of the damage and needs are not yet done, “initially there is dire need for food, water and temporary shelter in some areas. We do appreciate the support of the BWA.”
Donations for hurricane relief may be made online at BWAnet.org, or sent to:
Baptist World Aid
405 N. Washington St.
Falls Church, VA 22046 USA
This news release first appeared at the Baptist World Alliance website.