The WEA is joining with the Caribbean Evangelical Alliance to provide support to Alliances and churches across the Caribbean Region. The regional office in Trinidad is gearing up to become an information, training and support hub. Helping those islands devastated by Irma will be a long term effort. Our aim in creating a center for information and engagement is to help coordinate and provide technical assistance, and also keep the effort going for a longer time.
The Caribbean Regional Office reports the following (as of Friday morning):
- The Turks and Caicos Islands: widespread damage, although extent unclear.
- Barbuda: the small island is said to be “barely habitable”, with 95% of the buildings damaged. Prime Minister Gaston Browne estimates reconstruction will cost $100m (£80m). One death has been confirmed.
- St Martin: the island that comprises the French territory of Saint-Martin and the Dutch section Sint-Maarten suffered terrible damage. Five people have been killed.
- Barbs (Saint Barthelemy): 2 dead, serious damages to buildings, heavy flooding and power outage.
- Kitts & Nevis: was spared the full brunt of Irma. However, there was significant damage to property and infrastructure, as well as power failures. The airport is due to reopen on Thursday.
- Puerto Rico: more than 6,000 residents of the US territory are in shelters and many more without power. At least three people have died.
- US Virgin Islands: damage to infrastructure was said to be widespread, with four deaths confirmed
- Anguilla: the island looks as if it had been struck by a nuclear bomb. One person has died.
- British Virgin Islands: a state of emergency has been declared. Significant damage has been reported, where critical facilities, as well as homes, businesses and supermarkets, have been devastated.
- Haiti and the Dominican Republic: Both battered by the storm, but neither had as much damage as initially feared.
If you would like to help with this effort there are a few things to consider:
First, do not send “stuff” (clothing, medicine, etc). Private donations of “stuff” largely go to waste. Instead make financial donations either through your church, through a reputable NGO (Salvation Army, World Relief, World Vision, etc) or to WEA for the Caribbean (http://www.worldea.org/donate)
Second, recovery will be a long process. If you make a donation consider spreading it out in monthly amounts for a year. There is typically a huge flow of money the first week after a disaster then little afterwards.
Third, stay connected. People in a disaster often start to feel forgotten after the press leave and the news media has moved on.
If you have some ideas about how to help the Caribbean feel free to contact me.