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News Release

Hurricane Fiona Affects the Islands of the Caribbean

In the face of the damage caused, the Church responds through its humanitarian services.

In the face of the damage caused, the Church responds through its humanitarian services.

Torrential rains, hurricane winds, floods, displaced families, extensive damage to property, interruption of basic services and even human loss of life are the result of the impact of Hurricane Fiona throughout the Caribbean region.

In response, the humanitarian services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have activated a series of actions to help authorities and community organizations cope with the situation and mitigate the damage caused by this natural phenomenon.

Help has been provided to aid about 65,000 affected families on the French island of Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. The aid seeks to provide food, water, hygiene items and other emergency supplies, as well as human assistance through Helping Hands volunteers, through which cleaning and debris removal will be carried out, as well as the distribution of supplies. The Church will continue to provide additional relief and assistance.

In addition to its direct actions, the Church will provide support through organizations to 17 emotional resilience centers operated through the international Mercy Corps organization in Puerto Rico where water, food, and other essential emergency supplies will also be provided.

Hurricane Fiona affects the islands of the Caribbean
Hurricane Fiona affects the islands of the Caribbean
© 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Church's manager of welfare and self-reliance for the Caribbean Area, Josue D. Vanderhorst, said, "In the Caribbean, we are people of faith in Jesus Christ and our people have a high degree of resilience. These phenomena occur and the best thing we can do is to be prepared, as we are taught in the Church. This presents us, at times, with the challenge of families who lose their belongings, their homes and sometimes more regrettably, even loved ones.” He indicated that in addition to material help, the Church provides assistance and emotional support in view of the traumas that a situation like this can cause.

"Our Heavenly Father remembers his children and answers their prayers, no matter how difficult the situation, so we hope, in a way, to be part of that answer, providing what is necessary to those who need it most and in the shortest possible time. As Christians, we are sensitive and supportive of the pain of others, so the least we can do is be there and humbly respond with what we have within our reach; extending a hand as the Savior Jesus Christ would have”, he added.

© 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Fiona caused the loss of human life, displaced more than 12,000, and resulted in the flooding of rivers, streams and ravines, landslides, and large material loss in addition to breakdowns in the electrical system and damage to agricultural areas and those that are without communication in the provinces of El Seibo, La Romana and La Altagracia.

In partnership with the Rotary Club of the Dominican Republic, funds will be used to help those affected in the eastern and northeastern regions of the country, including food, clothing and medicine for people who lost their homes due to the hurricane.

Church leaders in each region have reported that despite the damage, church members and missionaries are safe. There have been no unrecoverable losses. Most of the Church buildings are in good condition, apart from some minor damage from falling trees and other objects on the meetinghouses of El Seibo and La Romana, in the Dominican Republic.

They emphasize the importance of the emergency plans that "the Church teaches its members to prepare and implement in these situations, both at the family level and in each congregation and at the level of the entire community. This includes good communication for the care of those most affected," said George Marmol, president of the La Romana stake, which covers the most affected provinces.

Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico, power service was suspended throughout the island, in addition to devastating flooding, both in urban and rural areas and especially in the central and southern areas of the country. More than a million people reportedly remain without electricity, some 800,000 lack clean water and about a thousand families have not been able to be relocated, while about 30 inches of rain have been measured in some places.

Humanitarian aid projects have been approved with the World Food Program, Project HOPE and the Red Cross for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Other major projects for the Caribbean area are also being considered.

Guadeloupe

Hurricane Fiona also caused damage as it passed through the French territory of Guadeloupe on Friday, September 16, causing damage and flooding across the island.

In the aftermath of the storm, missionaries and Church members joined community efforts by assisting residents, distributing water and cleaning supplies, and cleaning homes and affected sites.

Hurricane Fiona affects the islands of the Caribbean
Hurricane Fiona affects the islands of the Caribbean
© 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Stories of Hope

Internally, among Church congregations and their members, emergency plans were activated and through local leadership in each community, the self-reliance program is providing support to Church members who have also been affected. So far, these actions have benefited some 350 families in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Andrés F. Tapia, bishop of the La Manicera neighborhood in El Seibo, recounted: "As soon as the hurricane passed, I visited a sister, and seeing her house totally destroyed, we cried together because she is a person without resources who lives day to day. However, both she and many others do not lose faith. Via the actions currently being carried out by the Church which help with immediate resources, she and others harbor hope and feel gratitude for the support they receive."

At another local church congregation, the elders quorum president (a local leader) housed another brother from his congregation who lost all of his property. These types of actions, for many, are a source of hope.

For his part, Nicolás Núñez, president of the Hato Mayor branch, said: "In a general way, I could see how the hurricane caused a lot of damage in the community, but I feel grateful for the opportunity to serve in the work of the Lord and to help my sisters and brothers to see that this is nothing more than a test. The important thing is to move forward and persevere, because we are not alone."

Actions will continue

Regarding the situation in Puerto Rico, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, declared a state of emergency, a measure that will free up federal funds for relief work. President Luis Abinader Corona did the same regarding the Dominican Republic and the Minister of the Interior of France, Gérald Darmanin, announced a state of natural catastrophe for the French islands, which is expected to take effect in the coming days.

Forecasts from the U.S. National Hurricane Center indicate that the rains will continue with possible additional flooding. The centre of Fiona is expected to pass close to the British Turks and Caicos Isles.

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