Irma's impact on ministries
September 11, 2017 at 6:00 AM
A child fills a bucket with water as Hurricane Irma moves off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. (Photo by Ricardo Rojas/Reuters)
Irma's impact on ministries
By Dan Breen
The wrath and fury of Hurricane Irma affected thousands in the Caribbean, but we are thankful to report a relatively minimal impact at Luke Society ministries.
As the hurricane built strength in the Atlantic, it looked like three ministry locations could be in the crosshairs of what some were touting as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The Luke Society has ministries in Los Angeles and Rafey, Dominican Republic, as well as Cayes-Jacmel, Haiti.
Thankfully, the hurricane path veered north of the island, allowing the Luke Society ministries to avoid the brunt of the storm.
The Luke Society region most impacted was in Rafey, which is only about 25 miles south of Dominican Republic’s northern coastline.
Director Dr. Johny Belarme remained safe despite widespread damage in his region.
"Hurricane Irma caused a lot of havoc – many material losses," Belarme said. "There were strong gusts of wind and it did not stop raining. In all things we give that the God. Buildings destroyed can be rebuilt, but not a life. This is a moment where we need to link up in prayers so that our good God will continue taking control of everything."
He added, "We do not understand now, but we know that behind every catastrophic event of this nature, the Lord has a purpose."
Dr. Silvia Martinez’s ministry is on the southern end edge of the Dominican-Haiti island. The strongest part of the storm was well north.
“Thanks to God Irma didn’t hit us in our area as bad as it was expected to,” Silvia said. “We had rain; the power went off in our area; and many batteries that operate our alternate power were broken; communications were interrupted for a while.”
Irma did cause significant damage further north where Silvia said about 2,000 people are in shelters with many having lost all of their belongings and homes. Some communities are still isolated due to inaccessibility in roads and communications.
The northern part of Haiti was clipped by Irma and caused flooding, but Haiti ministry director Dr. Erol Rene said the Civil Protection Committee of the Northern Region did a good job of evacuating people living in flood-prone places near rivers and on the shores of the Atlantic.
"In the southern part of Haiti, where the Luke Society ministry is, did not feel the effects of the hurricane," Erol said. "There were no rains, either. (Thursday) was very quiet, but (Friday) there were moments of light rain that alternated with periods of sunshine, which is very good because these days it had not rained much."
Haiti was hit more directly by Category 4 Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, so avoiding another disaster was a welcome relief.
“We thank the Lord for having protected the country against the devastating effect of Hurricane Irma,” Erol said.
While most of the news coverage centered around Irma, there was also a Category 2 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico that had some impact on Dr. Jose Luis Guerrero’s ministry in Jalapa, Mexico. Hurricane Katia made landfall off the coast of Veracruz on Friday night.
“Thanks to God there was not a great destruction – just some houses lost their tin roofs made of zinc sheet,” Jose Luis said.
However, two people lost their lives in a neighborhood not far from the ministry location due to a mudslide that destroyed their house.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Katia came right after a more devastating disaster that hit the country on Thursday, Sept. 7, when an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit the southwest part of Mexico.
Jose Luis said the earthquake was felt in Jalapa, but there wasn’t much damage there. However in the state of Oaxaca, more than 70 have died and hundreds of houses have been destroyed. Remember to pray for this region.
A man walks among debris as Hurricane Irma moves off the norther cost of the Dominican Republic, Sept. 7. (Photo by Ricardo Rojas/Reuters)