Concern for the Caribbean as Hurricane Irma hits

7 September 2017

Satellite view of Hurricane Irma on 3 September 2017. By Suomi NPP/VIIRS

Prayers have been requested by the church community across the Caribbean as Hurricane Irma has struck the region.  Irma is a category 5 hurricane, the highest possible level, and is the strongest Atlantic storm in ten years.

UPDATE: 8 September 2017

As the Anglican Alliance hears from those affected in the Caribbean we will keep this article up to date with the latest news.

Father Reid Simon in Antigua has sent the following message:  “Greetings from Antigua where this island was spared any damage.  Barbuda, our sister island has been declared a disaster area.  We have not heard from Anguilla where Bishop Errol is and where it is said that quite a lot of damage has taken place.  We also have not heard from St. Maarten/St. Martin as well as St. Barths and Statia.  We are very thankful for the prayerful support and we shall let you know what has transpired in those other areas.  We continue to press on with God even in the midst of the challenge of devastation and material loss.”

Jean Claude Cerin, the country director for Tearfund in Haiti, has thanked the Anglican community for their prayers and concern.  He said, “We will be sure to send information on the needs and keep you informed of our response moving forward.  Thanks again for your solidarity and looking forward to cooperation as we respond to the needs of the people.”

Episcopal Relief & Development are also in contact with their church partners in the Caribbean and Florida, are ready to respond to emergency needs in the affected areas.  A prayer has been suggested on their website and is copied below:

A Prayer for Those in the Path of Hurricane Irma

Oh, God of Heaven and Earth, our God who carries our lives and the lives of our whole community in your hands, be with us in the peril of Hurricane Irma. Help us to place our anxieties and fears into those same caring hands, knowing in faith that your will for us is life and everlasting good. Send your holy angels to watch over us and guard us. May they spread their holy wings to give us shelter against the storm. For you alone, O God, are all god, all live, all love, and that love is for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

— A Prayer Offered by the Reverend Thomas Weitzel, adapted

7 September 2017

Entire islands have been almost wiped out by the fierce storms.  The eye of the hurricane passed over the tiny island of Barbuda at 1:47am local time, destroying up to 90 per cent of its housing and developments and leaving it “barely habitable”. The hurricane’s path will also reach Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti shortly, then the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cuba and the Bahamas on Friday and Saturday, and projections suggest it may hit Florida on Sunday.

Clifton Nedd, the Anglican Alliance regional facilitator for the Caribbean, said, “In the north eastern Caribbean the reports are of absolute destruction. The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda has indicated that some 90% of the housing stock have been destroyed or damaged. He anticipates that in a day or two a decision will have to be made to evacuate the island, which is now under water, since another hurricane Jose has formed in the south eastern Atlantic and is predicted to also pass over that area.”

The Anglican Alliance is making contact with affected dioceses to find out more and is ready to help those responding to the crisis.

So far at least nine people have been killed, with the death toll likely to rise.  In Puerto Rico the strong winds left almost 1 million without power, and millions more across the region are likely to be without homes.

A third hurricane, Katia, has also developed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.