Hurricane Matthew has left a path of devastation, moving from the Caribbean to the Carolinas. Though the hurricane was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone and has moved out to sea, the danger is far from over.
Haiti, where the hurricane made landfall as a Category 4 storm, has experienced the greatest destruction. For a week afterward, hurricane strength winds of at least 110 mph were buffeting the country. There are 1.4 million people in need of assistance and more than 1,000 are reported dead, including at least one Nazarene church member. More than 535 Nazarene families in southwestern Haiti have been directly affected by the loss of homes, crops, and livelihoods. Those numbers are expected to rise as more reports come in from communities currently cut off from communication and transportation. Most in the area, including Nazarene pastors, have lost their homes, and 30 of 33 Nazarene church buildings have collapsed.
Grand-Anse District Superintendent Joseph David Esperance is thankful for the church reaching out.
“I know that the church has been praying for me," he said. "Thank you for the church, to try to reach me after the hurricane hit. I am thankful that you are sending a team to assess.”
The southwestern peninsula used to be full of fruit trees, crops, livestock, and businesses. The hurricane leveled nearly all of them. The sheet-metal and concrete houses couldn’t hold up to the wind and rains. Paths and roads are blocked by concrete, palm trees, and debris. The South District includes 30 churches, 10 of which collapsed and 11 lost their roofs.
Through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, church leaders have distributed hundreds of crisis care kits, food packages, Sawyer water filters, and high-quality tents that each shelter up to 12 individuals. Another 1,500 water filters, 150 tents, and 140,000 pre-packaged meals are on their way to Haiti.
Food, clean water, and shelter are critical concerns. Floodwaters are raising concerns of a cholera outbreak, which is spread through contaminated water and leads to rapid outbreaks. So far, more than 125 cases of cholera have been confirmed in Haiti’s southwestern departments. More than 10,000 people have died from cholera since its outbreak in 2010, with hundreds of new cases confirmed each week.
In Cuba, more than 1 million people have been evacuated in the wake of the hurricane. Because of massive evacuation, loss of life has largely been avoided. However, homes and buildings have been severely damaged in the Baracoa and Maisi areas, where church leaders estimate 15 churches have been damaged and at least 29 Nazarene families have been left homeless.
Many Cubans lost everything. When they returned home after the storms, they found rubble and scarce shelter. Some salvaged what they could, laying it out in the streets to dry. Others tried to clear the debris from their homes. Without running water, many have been struggling to find food and water and are waiting for aid to come.
In the Bahamas, reports from the Church of the Nazarene show that the Nazarene district office and many churches have been damaged.
Nazarene churches across the Caribbean have requested support as they work to bring safe water, food, and shelter to people who have lost nearly everything.
In the United States, torrential rains are still fueling massive flooding in South and North Carolina. With Matthew dumping 15 inches of water in some areas and continued rain, floodwaters aren’t expected to crest until Friday. At least 42 deaths have been reported across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
“Today we give God thanks for the dawning of a new day and seek His blessing on much of our state that continues to deal with hurricane clean-up and repair,” said Eddie Estep, South Carolina district superintendent. “Let's continue to pray for those who have suffered significant damage and loss, and join in the efforts to repair and rebuild in our communities.”
After the storm, hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians were without electricity. Thousands are still in shelters, and homes, business, roads, and bridges have been flooded and closed. More than 11 Nazarene churches are providing shelter to families who were forced to evacuate. Every family from the Nazarene church in Beaufort, South Carolina, was displaced.
"All of our people [from the Beaufort church] were displaced from their homes but we are thankful all are safe,” Estep said. “We are grateful to each of these churches that made their facilities available to those in need.”
How to help
Please continue to pray for those grieving the loss of loved ones. Pray for those who have lost their homes and have no means to rebuild. Pray for continued protection of lives. Pray for vulnerable children and senior adults. Pray that people would know God’s comfort and peace. And pray for churches in the Caribbean and U.S. working to care for their neighbors and meet urgent needs.
Churches and individuals around the world can provide support through the Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Hurricane Matthew Response Fund. Donations will be used for immediate needs, as well as long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.
To send donations by mail:
In the U.S., make checks payable to "General Treasurer" and send them to:
Global Treasury Services
Church of the Nazarene
P.O. Box 843116
Kansas City, MO 64184-3116
Be sure to put ACM1198/F135 in the Memo area.
In Canada, make checks payable to "Church of the Nazarene Canada" and send them to:
Church of the Nazarene Canada
20 Regan Road, Unit 9
Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3
Be sure to put ACM1198/F135 in the Memo area.
For any other country, give through your local church or district, designating your gift to Hurricane Matthew Response.