From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
CARIBBEAN AID STRATEGIES UNDERGO REVISION AFTER SECOND
04 May 1996 20:49:38
95337 CARIBBEAN AID STRATEGIES UNDERGO REVISION AFTER SECOND
HURRICANE SMACKS THE ISLANDS
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
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
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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