But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." Lamentations 3:21-24 (NRSV)
Since Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti last Tuesday as a Category 4 storm, Week of Compassion has been in ongoing conversation with partners in the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States. Even as damage is being assessed in the affected regions, we are working with our partners to develop response plans and providing relief and assistance. Early reports and actions are detailed below.
CALL TO ACTION
Most needed now are prayer and monetary gifts.
By prayer, we remind ourselves that we are connected by God's spirit, and we invoke that Spirit of hope, mercy, and steadfast love. By our gifts, we participate in God's mercies, enabling the variety of responses described below--from food and water, to latrines, shelters, and psychological support.
Week of Compassion has been present in the affected areas since long before the storm. Help us continue our presence long after the waters recede.
Hurricane Matthew affected the Southeastern coastal regions of the United States, including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Phone communications remain out in some affected areas, and power outages continue, contributing to concerns about food security and health. Multiple rivers have yet to crest in North Carolina, so additional flooding is a continued risk.
Week of Compassion is in communication with Disciples regional staff and churches. Multiple Florida churches incurred damage. According to the most recent reports, church buildings in North Carolina seem to have fared well, though several member families' homes have been flooded.
Week of Compassion will respond through the regions and local congregations to provide immediate relief and assistance and anticipates a long-term presence.
Hurricane Matthew, the first Category 4 storm to strike Haiti since 1964, has caused extensive damage. Current reports state that over 750,000 people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance and some 90,000 people were displaced by the storm. Homes have been destroyed, food security threatened, and water sanitation compromised.
Homes built with Week of Compassion support after the 2010 earthquake were flooded, but thankfully withstood strong winds and remain safe and habitable. During the storm, these homes served as shelters for people seeking refuge and saved lives in the region. With this news, we recommit ourselves to the relationships and ongoing work of development and disaster mitigation, alongside relief and recovery.
The eye of the storm hit the South of the country, affecting the Sud, Grand Anse, Sud East, La Gonave and West regions. Week of Compassion is working with Global Ministries' partners to respond in these most affected areas. Immediate aid will include delivery of hygiene kits (comprised of soaps, detergents, chlorine, toilet paper, and disinfectants) and of emergency food supplies such as rice, beans, spaghetti, oatmeal and cornstarch. Repairs to critical buildings, which serve as shelters and combined church/school centers, will strengthen communal recovery, as will microcredit loans.
Among other affected areas was the isolated Nord Ouest region. "The Northwest cooperatives have been severely affected" Cher Frere of the Christian Center for Integrated Development (SKDE) explains, "this is the first time I have seen so much damage here. Two of the cooperative office buildings lost their roofs (both in Baie-de-Henne). Gardens have been lost, livestock are dead, trees are down, roads are blocked, homes damaged." Week of Compassion partners--Church World Service and SKDE--are among the few NGOs working in this region.
Since 2005, Week of Compassion has worked with partners to provide training on agriculture, micro-credit, cooperative leadership, and disaster preparedness to more than 25,000 people. In order to encourage the resilience of the community, these projects will continue in tandem with rebuilding efforts.
Hurricane Matthew also hit the eastern coast of Cuba on October 4, where it remained for 8 hours with winds of 155 mph, causing severe damage in the provinces of Guantánamo and Holguin. Week of Compassion is responding in the region through the ACT Alliance Cuba Forum through the Cuban Council of Churches (CIC).
More than 176,000 people were cut off from communication for 24 hours, as bridges collapsed, trees fell, rivers overflowed, and landslides formed. Across the region, more than 95% of houses lost roofs. Livelihoods and food security are also threatened in the region due to the destruction of coconut, banana, and cocoa plantations.
Week of Compassion's response will include:
- food security, through the distribution of food aid to 3000 houses and tools and seeds to 300 households
- water and sanitation, including the installation of water purification in 3 communities and the installation of ecological latrines in 300 households
- psychosocial support, through community interventions
- provision of emergency shelter
- livelihood restoration