Assessments, life-saving relief efforts continue after Hurricane Matthew

Assessments, life-saving relief efforts continue after Hurricane Matthew

By Neisha Roberts
The Alabama Baptist

By 7 a.m. that morning Jared McCrory had heard from officials at Children’s Hope in Jacmel, Haiti, accounting for the safety of each of the 40-plus children in their care. The report came five hours after the Category 4 Hurricane Matthew had pummeled the country Oct. 4.

McCrory, executive director of the First Baptist Church, Montgomery, orphan ministry in Haiti and member of the Montgomery Baptist Association church, said the hurricane bypassed Jacmel so it caused little damage at the Children’s Hope campus, which houses the children’s home, medical/dental clinic and missions team housing.

However, the areas of Jeremie and Anse du Clerc took a direct hit where 99 percent of homes in the area were reported as missing roofs or being severely damaged.

Immediately after the storm had passed Children’s Hope staff members were able to distribute 40 bags of food to families in the greatest need around the Jacmel campus, McCrory said, and within the first few days about 250 families were assisted in some way.

Families most in need

Now the ministry — which focuses on foster care, adoption and orphan care in the No. 20 poorest country in the world — faces the task of reaching families most in need. That will require reports from ministry partners and the assessment team of five that landed in Anse du Clerc on Oct. 13.

“Through our local partners (staff, pastors and others) we’ll be assessing the families … and seeking to assist them through provision of food and supplies until they are able to recover from their losses,” said McCrory, noting the assessment team included two nurses. The team also took more than 500 pounds of food with them as well as medicine and other supplies.

And, according to McCrory, the ministry “feels compelled to focus on Anse du Clerc because we’re not sure if anyone has focused on them yet.” The assessment team also will work in conjunction with Haitian partners and Pathfinder Mission, another ministry in Haiti, to determine if there is a need for skilled volunteers from the United States.

“From there we will develop a strategy for ensuring the communities have access to adequate food, water, shelter and provisions. We’ll look to help repair and rebuild the houses (in Anse du Clerc) and help replant crops,” McCrory said.

Teams also will focus on replanting crops in Jacmel, where residents “depend on them for their living.”

“Please continue praying for the people of southwest Haiti and pray for us as we seek to respond with compassion, wisdom and effectiveness,” McCrory said. “It’s our privilege to stand with and serve with our Haitian brothers and sisters in this time of great need.”

A cholera outbreak also is a concern in Haiti as the “deadly bacteria can be found in contaminated water,” according to MAP International, a Christian organization providing life-saving medicines to people in poverty.

MAP sent a shipping container full of essential medicines and medical supplies to Haiti to help prevent the bacteria from spreading. The Interagency Emergency Health Kit that the organization sent can treat common diseases for up to 10,000 people for 90 days.

But Haiti wasn’t the only place severely impacted by Hurricane Matthew. Baptist Global Response (BGR), the International Mission Board’s relief arm, has focused its efforts on Cuba, which lacks trained personnel and non-governmental organizations.

In Cuba’s Baracoa and Maisí, municipalities, 90 to 95 percent of homes were reported as damaged. In the week following the storm, ministry partners delivered two trucks with 12 tons of food to the affected areas through BGR’s initial $100,000 response.

Jeff Palmer, BGR executive director, told The Alabama Baptist that the organization’s assessment team was working in Cuba on Oct. 13 and its report “will move us into many more projects in Cuba” beyond the essentials already being addressed.

“Please pray for the survivors and those that lost loved ones and homes. … Pray for good connections with local churches and good understanding … of what’s going on so we can get the most effective and essential aid to the most needy.”

Willingness to respond

He also expressed thanks to Alabama Baptists for their willingness to respond in Haiti, where BGR is “following the lead of state conventions already working there.”

Meanwhile in the U.S., Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers worked in St. Augustine, Florida, to help in the aftermath of Matthew.

Feeding efforts were winding down around press time and the Alabama feeding unit stopped operations Oct. 12, according to Mark Wakefield, disaster relief and chaplaincy ministries strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM). Another round of cleanup/recovery teams, this time from Cleburne Baptist Association, deployed Oct. 13. Another team of five chaplains were deployed Oct. 16.

As far as relief in other East Coast states, Wakefield said other state conventions are working to meet needs there and Alabama will be ready to assist if called on.

Disaster relief teams from Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas are all serving in various locations along the East Coast where areas were still flooded at press time.

And this is all while volunteers are still working in Louisiana after it saw record-shattering rainfall and flooding in August.

Alabama Baptist college students also have stepped up to volunteer. A Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) team from the University of North Alabama in Florence served in a cleanup effort in Louisiana during fall break, according to Chris Mills, an associate in SBOM’s office of collegiate and student ministries.

“There is still a lot of cleanup to do and helping folks put their lives back in order,” said Mills, noting that BCM campus ministers were looking at potential opportunities for relief trips on Christmas break and spring break 2017.

The variety of relief efforts Alabama Baptists are involved in is only made possible through the generosity of Alabama Baptists, according to Rick Lance, SBOM executive director.

“The Cooperative Program (CP) provides entirely all financial support for the ministry infrastructure of Alabama Baptists,” Lance wrote in a blog post at Any contributions made through the site are “used entirely to help people impacted by [the current disaster relief efforts]. We do not save any monies contributed here for future disasters,” he wrote Oct. 8. “It is Alabama Baptists’ faithfulness through CP giving that allows this 100 percent commitment.”