Christian agencies are working desperately to help communities across the Caribbean and South-eastern United States devastated by Hurricane Irma. More than 40 have died and tens of thousands have been left without homes by the storm.
Episcopal Relief & Development, the Anglican Alliance and USPG are among those getting involved. ERD and USPG have launched appeals.
Communications have been badly disrupted but Anglican Alliance co-director, Rachel Carnegie, said harrowing stories were beginning to emerge.
“Describing the storm as a Category 5 just does not represent the true horror,” she said. “This is a whole new reality. The Alliance and ERD are starting to establish contacts with dioceses across the region and we are hearing dreadful accounts of what has happened.
“The challenge now is to get food and water to people. Our concern is also to care for the carers – everyone is traumatised.”
The Alliance’s facilitator in the region, Clifton Nedd, said Elenor Lawrence, the Provincial Secretary of the Church of the West Indies (CPWI), had been in touch with the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, which includes some of the islands most devastated by the hurricane. She said there has been tremendous damage and destruction of Church buildings.
Mrs Lawrence said: “The Bishop was able to inform ... through someone else's cellphone that all the church buildings in Anguilla are flat with the exception of St. Mary but that will also require extensive repairs.” She noted that there was only minimal loss of life and committed the province to “continue to pray for them."
Clifton added: "We thank God for the several entities, including churches, who are responding to the immediate needs."
“We must remember that the clergy were also affected and face personal losses yet they are on the front-line of the response to the crisis; helping to heal their communities,” he continued. “As we respond I hope that we can lift up these and all other carers - specifically considering their needs.”
Earlier the Mothers’ Union issued this statement. “We the Provincial Council of Mothers’ Union in the Province of the West Indies, representing the Dioceses of Barbados, Belize, Guyana & Suriname, Jamaica & The Cayman Islands, North Eastern Caribbean & Aruba, Trinidad & Tobago and the Windward Islands, wish to send this message of prayer and solidarity to those in our province and beyond affected by the devastation of Hurricane Irma.
We have heard with great sorrow news of how the islands of the north eastern Caribbean have been devastated like never before. We mourn with all those who have lost loved ones, especially with one of our own delegates who has lost a family member in the British Virgin Islands.
Mothers’ Union and Church teams on the ground in the Diocese of North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba (NECA) are assessing and monitoring the situation as it develops and will be identifying how they can respond. Grants are being considered from the Mothers’ Union Disaster Fund in the Province of the West Indies and the worldwide Mothers’ Union Relief Fund once plans have been made.
We continue to ask for prayers from Mothers’ Union members and the Church around the world for all those who have been affected by this tragedy and for all those who are acting to respond in the relief effort.