“Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have been monitoring the situation in the areas already, or soon to be, affected by the hurricanes,” reports Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. Staff are “coordinating response efforts and planning with Church World Service and other church partners.”
Brethren Disaster Ministries has been in contact with Church of the Brethren districts that face the possibility of an impact from Hurricane Irma, to offer prayers and support as the storm approaches.
Winter and other Global Mission staff also have been contacting Brethren in the Caribbean to find out how they have fared following Hurricane Irma’s route through the islands. No news of significant damage to Brethren communities in Puerto Rico, Haiti, or the Dominican Republic has been received so far. “Initial reports are that these [Brethren] areas were not as badly affected as other areas of their countries,” said Winter in an update he shared on Friday.
Staff are maintaining close communication with the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project site in Marion County, S.C. Fortunately, a full group of volunteers was not on the schedule to work there this coming week.
Monitoring the situation and the needs
“Responding to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and other storms that might develop in this hurricane season, will be a challenge,” Winter wrote in his update.
“While contributing as able to an immediate response (especially through Children’s Disaster Services), Brethren Disaster Ministries will also be supporting the long-term recovery of the most vulnerable in the impacted communities in these affected areas.
“As the communities are planning their recovery, BDM will identify the best ways to support and help meet the needs of survivors.”
Global Mission and Services executive Jay Wittmeyer shared a report from mission staff in the Dominican Republic, who said that Hurricane Irma did little damage in the south and central parts of the country where most Brethren churches are located.
Haiti mission workers Ilexene and Michaela Alphonse and their family are back in Miami, Fla., and have reported that they are “fine so far, waiting for Irma.” Ilexene Alphonse wrote that he has been in touch with the Brethren in Haiti, where damage reported so far is in the loss of crops and flooding in Ouanaminthe area.
The only place in Haiti that has not yet been heard from, and which could be of concern, is the island of La Tortue.
Brethren Disaster Ministries staff continue to maintain contact with Church of the Brethren districts affected by Harvey as well as established partners, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD), and the local VOADS in Texas and Louisiana to monitor the situation on the ground and learn about short- and long-term needs.
As flood waters recede, staff will begin actively looking for partners in Texas and Louisiana to identify ways to have volunteers support clean up and rebuilding efforts.