[Anglican Alliance] Hurricane Matthew brought devastation as it swept through the Caribbean last week. Over two million people have been affected in Haiti, the most severely impacted country. Episcopal Relief & Development are already working with the Diocese of Haiti and ecumenical partners on the response. The Anglican Alliance is also in touch with the churches in Haiti, the Bahamas and Cuba, holding them in prayer and offering coordination of Anglican support.
The full extent of the destruction in south western Haiti is still being assessed as teams arrive in areas that were cut off due to infrastructure damage. Local officials report that over a thousand people have been killed in the storm, though officially the total is only 336 dead so far. Over 1.4 million people are in need of assistance in Haiti alone.
A real concern is the threat of cholera as homes and infrastructure have been destroyed making clean water unavailable at a time when clinics and health services are damaged and overwhelmed.
Hurricane force winds, storm surges, high waves and excessive rainfall have caused extensive damage including floods and landslides. As well as south western Haiti, the north west of the Haiti is also affected, together with south western Dominican Republic, eastern Cuba and the Bahamas, particularly Grand Bahama and North Andros. The storm then tracked north up the Florida coast to South Carolina, where more than 2.5 million people were under evacuation orders, as governors in four states have issued emergency declarations as the storm approaches.
International agencies are working with the government of each country as they coordinate their response to rescue people trapped in damage buildings, to provide shelter, clean water and food. Churches will already be responding locally to support those most in need, as people start to leave the evacuation shelters and return to their homes – or what remains.
In Haiti, Episcopal Relief & Development project officer, Ernest Cajuste, reports: “Hurricane Matthew’s torrential rain and heavy winds pounded Haiti Tuesday night. As I look at the pictures and listen to the radio stations, I am reminded that in the midst of trials and tough times, God is always in control and that he is going to lead the people of Haiti through this.”
He continued: “In moments of despair, Haitians have two things they cling to: the knowledge that they have friends, and the hope that tomorrow will be better. As we always say, ‘l’espoir fait vivre’ (‘where there is hope there is life’). Those that are alive after the storm are waiting for a glimmer of hope so that they can feel alive again.”
More information about how to support the response to hurricane Matthew can be found here:
Episcopal Relief & Development (US)
Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (Canada)
The Anglican Alliance will provide further updates as the situation unfolds. Please keep in your prayers all those affected by these storms.
A prayer for those impacted by the storms
Almighty God, who calmed the storm tossing the disciples’ boat, calm the fears that beset us as we await Hurricane Matthew: Grant us the peace that comes from you alone as we sit with the uncertainty of evacuation and in fear of damage to our homes and our communities, draw us ever closer to you, and give us the grace to comfort and aid others in need; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
— from the Diocese of Georgia
A Prayer for First Responders
Blessed are you, Lord, God of mercy, who through your Son gave us a marvellous example of charity and the great commandment of love for one another. Send down your blessings on these your servants, who so generously devote themselves to helping others. Grant them courage when they are afraid, wisdom when they must make quick decisions, strength when they are weary, and compassion in all their work. When the alarm sounds and they are called to aid both friend and stranger, let them faithfully serve you in their neighbour. We ask this through Christ our Lord. AMEN.
— Adapted from the Book of Blessings, #587, by Diana Macalintal