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Sandy prompts emergency aid

09 November 2012

By a staff reporter


Bale out: a woman in La Plaine, Haiti, empties out muddy water from her home after heavy rains caused by Hurricane Sandy, on 25 October

Bale out: a woman in La Plaine, Haiti, empties out muddy water from her home after heavy rains caused by Hurricane Sandy, on 25 October

THE devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean has left millions at risk of long-term food shortages, as vital crops were ruined by the storm.

The hurricane first came ashore in the Caribbean, devastating Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. It then moved on to the eastern seaboard of the United States, where it killed more than 100 people, destroyed buildings, and cut off power supplies. Many areas, even in the US, were still without electricity on Wednesday.

Charities have urged the world to focus efforts on Haiti, where millions were still living in tents after an earthquake in 2010, and Cuba. David Friswell, of the Methodist Church, said: "We have heard a great deal about the terrible impact of Hurricane Sandy in the United States, but our greatest concern is for those communities in the Caribbean not seen on our TV screens. These places lack the resources to deal with such disasters."

The Methodist Church in Britain has sent £18,000 to churches in Cuba and Haiti.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has said that 1.5 million people in Haiti are suffering from serious food shortages. It has sent emergency aid to Haiti and Cuba. It is the "the worst catastrophe in 50 years in Santiago de Cuba", a spokeswoman for WFP, Elisabeth Byrs, said.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, in a joint statement with the President of the House of Deputies, the Revd Gay Clark Jennings, said: "The destruction left in its path has deepened the misery of those still recovering from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, as well as hurricanes earlier in the season. It is always the poorest who are most affected."

Churches in US dioceses that were hit by the hurricane have begun to advertise free mobile-phone-charging, coffee, and food in some areas. The Bishop Coadjutor of New York, the Rt Revd Andrew Dietsche, asked all parishes to have a food drive, with donations from areas such as the Bronx and Manhattan to go to the worst-affected.

Many churches have been severely affected themselves. In the diocese of New Jersey, many have been flooded or damaged by falling trees, and one - St Elisabeth's Chapel-by-the-Sea, Ortley Beach - was swept away altogether.

The Bishop of New Jersey, the Rt Revd George Councell, said in a letter to the diocese: "Even for those who came through without damage, many today are entering their second week without light, heat, power, or water. The nights are dark and cold. The lines for gasoline are long. Tempers are short. Common courtesy and Christian charity are not always evident. . .

"Already I have caught glimpses of genuine heroism; already I have witnessed sacrifices that make me weep with joy and gladness."

The relief agency of the Episcopal Church, Episcopal Relief and Development, is making emergency grants to dioceses affected by the storm in the US and the Caribbean. In the US, the grants are to help provide "feeding ministries", and assist those in need; and, in the Caribbean, the grants will pro- vide food, water, and building materials.

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