The 2017 Hurricane Season has shocked most people with it's intensity during the most recent few weeks: The 8th hurricane of the 2017 season, Harvey, struck the gulf shores of Texas and Louisiana with a vengeance of wind destruction and flooding, especially in the City of (and region surrounding) Houston. Right on Harvey's tail, Irma, Jose and Katia whipped through the Caribbean and Atlantic coast of the USA bringing further damage and flooding.
Hurricane Irma has wreaked havoc in the Caribbean Islands and Florida, destroying infrastructure, homes, trees, crops, and in some cases, everything in its path. Heavy rains, storm surges and flooding have caused even further damage.
The first islands in the path of Hurricane Irma were hit the hardest when the hurricane was Category 5 in intensity. As it passed through the warm waters of the Caribbean, it again increased to a Category 5 striking the north and north eastern parts of Cuba.
Reports out of Cuba are still scanty and lacking in detail as communication has been cut off, roads are impassable due to felled trees and power lines and internet is down. The few pictures and accounts we have, speak of extensive damage but also of heavy rains and flooding continuing this week, further hampering efforts to determine the full extent of the devastation.
Several of the Caribbean islands impacted by the hurricane are already receiving relief goods and plans are already underway to rebuild infrastructure, particularly those islands whose primary livelihood depends on tourism. The US is responding primarily in Texas and Florida.
Because of back to back hurricanes and then the earthquake in Mexico, the demands on NCM resources and personnel is intense. Since the Canadian church has close ties with the Cuban church, NCM Canada has been asked to coordinate the relief efforts in Cuba. Therefore NCM Canada's focus for Hurricane Irma disaster response will be Cuba.
We anticipate that priority needs will be for food, clean drinking water, and shelter. NCM Canada plans to send funds to the Cuban Church of the Nazarene for these immediate needs. At this point, we assume also that Work and Witness teams will be needed some time later to help rebuild / repair churches.
For immediate relief, please send donations to the National Office, Church of the Nazarene Canada, Unit 9, 20 Regan Rd., Brampton ONL7A 1C3. or phone 1-888-808-7490. (credit card donations accepted). You can also donate online at www.ncmcanada.ca under "Disaster Response". Please specify "Cuba".
Please pray for all affected by these recent disasters and for our churches and others who are responding. Please pray in particular for Cuba, our churches in Cuba, and all those impacted there.
Further updates will follow as more detailed news of damage in Cuba becomes available.
Rev. Elaine J. Bumstead Executive Director Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada