Tuesday, September 16, 2008
People stand in a flooded street on September 5, 2008 in Gonaives, 171 Km (72 miles) from Port-au-Prince after the passing of Hurrican Hanna. (THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images)
GONAIVES, Haiti – Hurricane Hanna that ripped through Haiti September 3 has devastated the Lutheran Church of Haiti and many of its social ministry operations reports the church president Pastor Revenel Benoit. With an initial death toll of 500, that figure is expected to rise as flood waters recede. More than 300 people currently occupy the three stories of the church’s four-story building. The ground floor sanctuary is still flooded.
“The hurricane destroyed the walls of our orphanage; our medical clinic walls are gone along with all the medical equipment and supplies inside. The orphans no longer have clothes and shoes. The rushing water even took the kitchen utensils. Wind and water destroyed the computers. Our bakery equipment is lost and most of the bakery walls were destroyed,” he wrote in a September 5 e-mail. Many of the destroyed buildings housed operations through which the church supported itself.
The pastor and his family spent 14 hours on the concrete roof of their home to avoid the floodwaters. With one of the few safe places in their area, more than 50 others joined them. “There was no food available and I was in trouble because as a diabetic I must have food or my blood sugar can drop to dangerous levels,” the pastor said. “What helped were two small watermelons I bought the day before.”
When he wrote his e-mail report President Benoit reported that the government had not taken any action and that the only sign of outside help was the overhead buzz of UN helicopters.
Lutheran agencies in Canada and the US are collecting funds to help with the relief efforts. To assist, CLICK HERE or send a cheque to Haiti Lutheran Mission Society, c/o 400 Glenridge Ave, St. Catharines, ON, L2T 3L2