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Presbyterian Disaster Assistance follows Hurricane Matthew’s path of destruction

Agency prepares to assist where needed

by Rick Jones and Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service

People run for shelter in the flooded streets of St Jean du Sud, on the southern coast of Haiti. (Photo courtesy Act Alliance/LWF)

People run for shelter in the flooded streets of St Jean du Sud, on the southern coast of Haiti. (Photo courtesy Lutheran World Federation)

LOUISVILLE – As Hurricane Matthew continues to churn across the Atlantic toward the U.S. coast, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has been reaching out to its partners in Haiti and Cuba.

“Our partners in Haiti are assessing the damage even as we speak,” said Luke Asikoye, PDA’s associate for international disaster response. “No one knows the extent of damage yet because communications and mobility are limited due to the storm.”

At last report, as many as 11 people were known to have been killed, including five in Haiti. The town of Baracoa, Cuba has been hit hard by extreme wind and storm surge. There are reports that some coastal areas have been hit by 24-foot waves. Numerous homes and businesses are reported damages in both Cuba and Haiti.

“In Haiti, we’ve had partners working since the 2010 earthquake and they’re still working on repairs from Hurricane Sandy,” said the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, PDA director. “Our national and international disaster staff have been having preliminary discussions about the best way to respond to this disaster.”

Cindy Corell, a mission co-worker who lives in Haiti, has been in Virginia this week and is trying to keep up with friends and co-workers through social media and phone calls.

“Most of the people I know are in Port-au-Prince, which has not been hit too hard. People are helping one another and a number of ministries are struggling to get help where it is needed most,” she said. “I have not been in touch with people from Cherident. The telephone towers are down and there is little or no electrical current. I will feel better when I know my Haitian family there is safe.”

PC(USA) Stated Clerk, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II,  said, “I am saddened by the devastation that is occurring. Haiti has been through this a number of times. Whereas this represents another rebuilding process, I am convinced that the people of Haiti do have the faith and resilience to get beyond this with the help of the good Lord, and the assistance of people who love the Lord.”

The National Hurricane Center is predicting the storm to hit parts of eastern Florida and the southeast coast on Thursday and continue through the weekend. Forecasters are also warning coastal communities in Georgia and the Carolinas to make necessary preparations.

“PDA staff are monitoring Matthew’s progress through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD),” said Kraus. “We’ve also reached out to all presbyteries in Florida and provided them with the basic forms to fill out for assistance should they be hit.”

Kraus says staff will do the same with the presbyteries along the east coast.

“We want to keep the lines of communication open with everyone along the eastern seaboard,” said Kraus. “We have National Response Team members all along the coast, especially the southeast. The NRTs will coordinate the initial assessment and response with the presbyteries affected.”

Maximum sustained winds from the storm are reported at near 120 mph and is currently listed as a category 3 hurricane.

Those interested in supporting relief efforts should designate gifts to “Hurricane Matthew” through https://pma.pcusa.org/donate/make-a-gift/gift-info/DR000148/.

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Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.


Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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