From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 04 May 1996 20:49:38


                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Strategies to deliver emergency aid to the Caribbean were 
being revamped at press time and damage estimates were being revised after 
Hurricane Marilyn smacked both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and 
headed back out to sea. 
     According to Bob Arnold of Church World Service (CWS) in New York 
City, that agency may well ask its mainline constituents for another 
$100,000, matching last week's CWS appeal for damage caused by Hurricane 
Luis, which leveled an estimated 70 percent of the housing on Antigua and 
     At press time, Presbyterian World Service (PWS) was considering upping 
its current $10,000 contribution from One Great Hour of Sharing funds; and 
the Rev. Monrelle Williams, new general secretary of the Caribbean 
Conference of Churches (CCC) in Barbados, was debating whether to issue 
another appeal for more money because of Hurricane Marilyn. 
     "What emergency relief we're getting now we will use as best we can to 
help the poorest of the poor,"  Williams told the Presbyterian News 
Service, stressing that recovery on the islands is barely beginning. 
"Right now we're trying to keep the elements off of people, to get them 
food and medical supplies. 
     "But later on, there's rehabilitation -- helping people put their 
shattered lives back together." 
     Consultants from numerous Caribbean churches are beginning to move 
among the islands now to determine what aid is needed where -- and to 
figure out how to deliver it when some airports and harbors are still not 
functional.  CWS intends to send two consultants -- Presbyterians the Rev. 
Richard L. Krajeski and the Rev. Kristina Peterson of Mannington, W.Va. -- 
to the U.S. Virgin Islands Sept. 21, if air transportation is available 
     CWS put consultants in both Puerto Rico and St. Croix on the heels of 
Hurricane Luis. 
     Arnold said early reports indicate about 80 percent of the housing on 
St. Thomas was demolished and more than 12,000 people are currently in 
public shelters in Puerto Rico. 
     "We have asked all of our congregations to collect from parishioners 
items such as clothing, sheets, blankets and nonperishable foodstuffs," 
said the Rt. Rev. Cyril Paul of the Presbyterian Church in Trinidad and 
Tobago, adding that goods will be dispersed by the St. Vincent DePaul 
Society and the CCC.  "It's very, very difficult. ... 
     "Our congregations have been asked to respond in a sacrificial way," 
he said.  "But it's amazing. In times of distress, sometimes the people who 
respond the best of all are the very needy." 
     The Rev. Maitland Evans of the United Church of Jamaica and the 
Caymans agreed that giving stresses some already poor congregations in the 
Caribbean.  "But whenever things like this happen," he said, "the smallest 
island to the largest contributes." 
     He said at least three secular radio fund-raisers have been held, with 
contributors coming from all income brackets. 
     While parts of Puerto Rico were hit by both hurricanes, the Rev. Harry 
del Valle, executive of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Synod of Puerto 
Rico, reports that no Presbyterian churches were damaged, since winds and 
rain blasted the island's east side and Presbyterian congregations are on 
its west coast. 
     Of an estimated 500 homes on the nearby island of Culebra, del Valle 
said, about 350 are thought to be destroyed. 
     "It's very frightening, very, very traumatic," said Paul of waiting 
out a hurricane and listening to weather reports that the storm is growing 
stronger.  "In fact, the trauma starts to build up before the storm 
arises," he said. 
     Some survivors are having to clean up twice, according to Williams. 
On Antigua, for instance, where the CCC is basing its relief operation, 
some who began recovery from Luis are beginning all over again in the wake 
of Marilyn. 
     Such rapid succession of storms is unusual, said del Valle, even for 
people well acquainted with bracing for tropical winds and rain.  Two more 
storms, he cautioned, are taking shape now along the west coast of Africa. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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