September 16, 2015 Royston Philbert/IAD Staff
Days after Tropical Storm Erika devastated the Caribbean Island of Dominica, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Dominica, with the help of local Adventist church member volunteers, are active in providing meals to those left homeless from the most affected communities on the island.
The storm hit the small island of approximately 72,000 people on Aug. 27, triggering mudslides, destroying roads, bridges and homes. Over 30 people died and dozens went missing.
Priscilla Prevost, ADRA coordinator in Dominica, reported that nearly 20,000 people have been affected and half of the island is without electricity. There were nine affected communities and the most affected were in Petite Savanne where all residents were evacuated by helicopters.
Flights into Dominica’s Douglas Charles Airport have been suspended since the tropical storm hit.
“ADRA Dominica is presently engaged in feeding about 120 persons at two main shelters,” said Prevost. “Our church member volunteers have been preparing three meals per day at the church’s Roseau Community Services since residents were evacuated from their destroyed homes.”
Last week, ADRA Coordinator for the East Caribbean Conference Collin Thorne, along with church member volunteers, visited the affected southern communities distributed food and water to individuals in homes and in shelters. Psychological first aid was also administered by qualified Adventist professionals during that visit.
Many pastors and church members traveled by boat with food and water to aid affected communities, and others joined the national relief program, ADRA leaders said.
Pastor R. Danforth Francis, president of the church in the East Caribbean Conference which oversees the church on the islands of Barbados and Dominica, said one member died and ten Adventists lost their homes and are currently staying in shelters.
“Our primary school in Roseau was flooded and suffered damage as well as our Dublanc Adventist Church,” said Francis. “We are thankful our church members and pastors are all actively involved in the relief effort.”
Kern Tobias, president of the Caribbean Union, made an appeal to church leaders and members throughout the dozens of islands comprising the English Caribbean territory to help Dominica.
Churches across neighboring islands began collecting funds during church services days after the storm hit.
In the Central Adventist Church in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Pastor J. Wilmoth James comforted many of the members of his congregation who were born in Dominica. “We are all traumatized by the tremendous loss of life in the tragedy, but we are assured that God is alive and is still in control of this world,” said James.
The church’s North Caribbean Conference overseeing US Virgin Islands and nine other islands are involved in collecting special offerings during the next weeks for the disaster relief efforts in neighboring Dominica.
ADRA is currently engaged in discussion with the government of Dominica to assist in building 10 starter homes for persons who lost everything from the storm, according to Prevost.
To learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the East Caribbean Conference visit eastcarib.org